Defendant Convicted of Attempted Murder for Hitting His Female Friend in the Head with a Tortilla Pan While She Slept
Brighton, CO —Today, District Attorney Brian Mason is announcing the Attempted Murder and Attempted Sexual Assault conviction of Deshawn Avila, 24. An Adams County Jury returned the guilty verdicts on Friday, February 11, 2022, after five days of trial.
In September 2018, the defendant, Deshawn Avila, and the victim in this case went to a bar in Denver for a night out. The two were close family friends, and the victim considered the defendant to be her own cousin even though they are not related. After their night out, Avila and the victim returned to her home. Avila slept in the victim’s room, and the victim slept in her young son’s room.
In the middle of the night, Avila entered the child’s bedroom where the victim slept and hit the victim in the head with her metal tortilla pan. The victim awoke to blood running into her eyes and a large gash on her forehead. The victim’s pants were also down below her pelvic area. The victim attempted to get away from Avila, but he proceeded to assault and strangle her. The victim eventually escaped the attack, and the defendant left the home. Avila was later arrested and charged.
“For this defendant to ambush his close friend in the middle of the night, smash her in the head with a tortilla pan, attempt to sexually assault her and then strangle her is truly beyond explanation,” said District Attorney Brian Mason.“The victim has suffered enormously and I’m hopeful this verdict will provide some semblance of closure to this horrifying event.” On Friday, February 11, 2022, an Adams County Jury convicted Deshawn Avila of five counts including,
Second-Degree Attempted Murder (F3)
Attempted Sexual Assault (F3)
Attempted Sexual Assault (F4)
First-Degree Assault—Strangulation (F3)
First-Degree Assault—Serious Bodily Injury with a Deadly Weapon (F3)
Avila will be sentenced on April 5, 2022, at 8:30am in Division M.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Kristen Baker and Deputy District Attorney Ashley Wiener led the prosecution of this case.
The picture below is of the tortilla pan mentioned in the above press release.
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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.