Defendant, Who Stabbed Female Victim Eight Times During Robbery at Her Home, Convicted of Murder by Broomfield County Jury
Some of the victim’s wounds were seven inches deep
Broomfield County, CO —Today, 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian S. Mason announced the First-Degree Murder conviction and life sentence of Ricardo Munoz-Diaz, 33. A Broomfield County jury convicted Mr. Munoz-Diaz on Friday, April 23, 2021, of First-Degree Felony Murder, Second Degree Murder, Aggravated Robbery-Wound or Strike, Aggravated Robbery, and two counts of Second-Degree Burglary after a five-day trial. The defendant was sentenced to life without parole at a sentencing hearing today.
“My heart truly breaks for this victim as well as her children, who are now left without a mother,” said District Attorney Brian Mason. “I cannot imagine the overwhelming fear she felt as she struggled for her life that horrible day.”
“Although it took six years to secure justice because of the defendant’s flight, I am grateful that justice was finally served. The defendant was motivated by money and greed and then fled from authorities after perpetrating this terrible crime. I appreciate the effort that went into extraditing Mr. MunozDiaz back from his hiding place in Mexico. And I appreciate the hard work of the prosecution team that led to this important verdict.”
On October 11, 2015, Ricardo Munoz-Diaz broke into the home of Amalia Karolina Lopez-Leon, 33, along E. Midway Boulevard in Broomfield, Colorado. Lopez-Leon was not home at the time of the initial break-in. Munoz-Diaz entered the victim’s home through a back door in an attempt to steal money from inside a safe in her residence. However, Munoz-Diaz was unable to open the safe and subsequently departed Lopez-Leon’s home. Munoz-Diaz previously lived in the same mobile home park as the victim and had come under the belief that she kept a large amount of cash in the safe.
On October 18, 2015, Munoz-Diaz returned to Lopez-Leon’s home to steal the contents inside the safe. Lopez-Leon was present when Munoz-Diaz arrived. The defendant made his way inside through the front door and immediately brandished a BB gun. He commanded the victim to open the safe, but Lopez-Leon was unable to do so. Munoz-Diaz proceeded to choke the victim and beat her with his BB gun.
During the struggle, Lopez-Leon made it to the kitchen where she was able to obtain a knife to defend herself. However, Munoz-Diaz stripped it away from her and stabbed the victim eight times in the chest and torso. Lopez-Leon fell to the kitchen floor where she later died. The victim suffered significant blunt-force trauma as well as stab wounds as deep as seven inches to her lungs, heart, liver, and stomach.
Munoz-Diaz departed the residence after he killed Lopez-Leon. The defendant returned later to collect the safe. Munoz-Diaz drove to a nearby lake and opened the safe. He discovered there was no money inside, only miscellaneous papers and documents, so he dumped the safe in the water and left the area. Munoz-Diaz also stole a purse and two watches from Lopez-Leon’s home. The defendant pawned the watches before departing to Mexico to hide out with his parents. Munoz-Diaz was eventually extradited back to Broomfield County in 2019.
On April 23, 2021, a Broomfield County jury convicted Ricardo Munoz-Diaz of FIRST-DEGREE FELONY MURDER, SECOND-DEGREE MURDER, AGGRAVATED ROBBERY-WOUND OR STRIKE, AGGRAVATED ROBBERY-KILL, MAIM, OR WOUND, and (2) two counts of SECOND-DEGREE BURGLARY. Munoz-Diaz was sentenced to life without parole for First-Degree Murder, 24 years for Second-Degree Murder, 12 years for Aggravated Robbery-Wound or Strike, 18 years for Aggravated Robbery-Kill, Maim, or Wound, 12 years for Burglary (Count 1), and 12 years for Burglary (Count 2). All of the sentences will run concurrently with the life without parole sentence. Chief Deputy District Attorney Rhoda Pilmer and Senior Deputy District Attorney Amy Petri-Beard led the prosecution of this case.
District Attorney Mason assumed the oath of office on January 12, 2021. The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office endeavors to seek justice on behalf of the citizens of Adams and Broomfield counties in felony and misdemeanor cases. DA Mason and his staff are dedicated to transforming the criminal justice system to better serve the citizens of the 17th Judicial District.
Ms. Gazelka is a forensic therapist and clinician in Denver, Colorado. She is currently focused on providing therapy and assessment services to adult offenders in the community corrections and parole systems as a supervisor at Correctional Psychology Associates (CPA). Her education and career have been devoted to the intersection of psychology and law since 2000. Ms. Gazelka has been working within the field of forensic and correctional psychology since 2006, providing therapy in the community and acute mental health care and risk assessments in county jails. She has practiced as a Licensed Professional Counselor since June 2012. She also became a Licensed Addiction Counselor in March 2014. She was listed as a full operating level DVOMB Approved Provider in June 2019 and started a fledgling DV program oriented to Colorado’s Department of Corrections at CPA in September 2019. Ms. Gazelka was appointed to the Domestic Violence Offender Management Board (DVOMB) in March 2019 and has started her second term with the board. Ms. Gazelka has been recognized for her work as Contributor of the Year at CPA in 2010 and 2012, as well as having been awarded an Alumni Impact Award for her forensic work in the community by University of Denver’s GSPP in 2019. Ms. Gazelka received her Master of Arts degree in Forensic Clinical Psychology from University of Denver's Graduate School of Professional Psychology in 2009. Ms. Gazelka also received her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law in 2007, obtaining attorney’s licenses in both Minnesota and Colorado (currently inactive).
Alex Castro Croy
Alex Castro Croy is a bilingual, bicultural, Trauma and Addiction Counselor and owner/Lead Clinician of Life Recovery Centers in Denver and Northglenn Colorado.
A first-generation immigrant from Mexico who accomplished his dream in higher education receiving an AA in Pastoral Ministry (Dallas, Texas), Bachelor of Science in Human Services (MSU in Denver, Colorado) and MA in Community Counseling from Regis University (Denver, Co). He is continuing to pursue his MA/Ph.D. from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Jungian and Archetypal Studies.
Alex’s passion includes training, teaching, counseling, and consulting. He has been an Adjunct Professor for the Human Services Department at MSU-Denver for 9 years. He has served as an Interventionist for the Latino GLBTQ community, Drug Court Probation Officer at Denver Juvenile Court Probation (8 years), Bilingual Diversion Officer for Denver DA office (5 years), and currently owner and director of Life Recovery Centers (7 years). He has worked with a variety of clients from all walks of life and his eclectic therapeutic interventions have proven to be effective in treating trauma and addiction.
Thea Wessel is an addictions counselor with a private practice in Colorado. She has been working in the criminal and addiction fields for thirteen years. Ms. Wessel earned her Masters in forensic psychology from the University of Denver and has her LPC, LAC, MAC, NCAAC, and ADS. She is working towards her Ph.D. in Transpersonal Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. Ms. Wessel continually challenges herself and others to provide quality addiction treatment and ways to continue to educate the community about addiction issues.