Defendant Who Shot and Killed Two People Outside of a Westminster Bar Convicted of First-Degree Murder
Brighton, CO —Today, District Attorney Brian Mason is announcing the First-Degree Murder conviction of Steven Muniz, 40. An Adams County Jury returned multiple guilty verdicts on Thursday, December 23, 2021, after nine days of trial.
On March 5, 2021, Stephen Muniz attended Sportswatch Bar and Grill along Lowell Boulevard in Westminster with family, friends, and members of the gang he is a self-admitted member of. At some point during the evening, the group that Muniz was with became embroiled in a confrontation with another group of individuals at the bar. The altercation became physical when Muniz punched one of the people from the other group, but it ended a short time later.
In the early morning hours of March 6, 2021, individuals began to leave the bar, including Keith Ames, 33, who was one of the men involved in the confrontation earlier in the night. As Ames left the bar, Muniz followed behind. As they reached the parking lot, Muniz confronted Ames. At some point during this additional confrontation, Muniz fired four shots from a 9mm handgun, two of which struck Ames in the back. He was later pronounced deceased. The other two shots struck Jessica Ybarra, 31, in the foot and back as she stood in the parking lot nearby. She also died as a result of the shooting.
After firing the four shots that killed Ames and Ybarra, Muniz fled on foot and jumped in the truck of a friend, Robert Manzanares. The two drove away from the scene. Nearly two weeks later, thanks to a detailed investigation by the Westminster Police Department, Muniz was identified as the shooter and was taken into custody.
“This was an unconscionable and reprehensible crime,” said District Attorney Brian Mason. “The defendant murdered two people in cold blood to settle a petty score. His violent actions left two families reeling and a city asking why? Now he faces a lifetime in prison for his crimes – and our community will be safer for it. I appreciate the jury returning a just verdict – and I’m grateful to the Westminster Police Department and my entire prosecution team for their extraordinary work on this challenging case.” On Wednesday, December 22, 2021, an Adams County Jury convicted Steven Muniz of four counts including,
First-Degree Murder—After Deliberation (2)
First-Degree Murder—Universal Malice (2)
Muniz will be sentenced on January 5, 2022, at 1:30pm before Judge Priscilla Loew.
On December 3, 2021, an Adams County jury convicted Manzanares of Accessory to a Crime for his role in this incident and he was sentenced to three years in the Department of Corrections.
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.