Two Adams County Defendants Sentenced to Prison Following 2nd-Degree Murder Convictions
August 18, 2023
Brighton, CO — Today, 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason is announcing the prison sentences for Hayden Banks, 33, and Gregory Thomas, 38, following their Second-Degree Murder convictions in two separate homicide cases that were prosecuted in Adams County.
On March 15, 2022, Hayden Banks shot and killed David Islas inside the victim's motel room at the Venture Inn along North Pecos Street in Adams County. The dispute centered around a counterfeit $100 bill that Banks attempted to recover from the victim. Banks confronted Islas in the doorway of his motel room. When Islas started to shut the door, Banks pulled out his handgun and shot the victim once through the heart.
On Friday, June 30, 2023, an Adams County Jury found Banks guilty of Second-Degree Murder following a week-long trial. On Thursday, August 17, 2023, an Adams County District Court Judge sentenced Banks to 40 years in the Department of Corrections.
“The defendant egregiously and unnecessarily took another man’s life – and he will now have to pay the consequences,” said District Attorney Brian Mason. “I am grateful to the jury, as well as the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and my DA’s Office prosecution team, for securing justice in this case.” Gregory Thomas:
On May 20, 2021, an Adams County Deputy discovered a body in a trash can inside a storage unit at the Free Up Storage facility along Devonshire Street in unincorporated Adams County. The storage unit was owned by Gregory Thomas. The body inside the storage unit was identified as Lavanya Jain, 21. Thomas was eventually apprehended in Washington. Thomas admitted to meeting Jain online and said she had been staying at his house. Thomas claimed that he shot Jain in self-defense on March 19, 2021, and then hid her body inside the storage unit. On May 19, 2023, Thomas pleaded guilty to Second-Degree Murder, and on August 17, 2023, an Adams County District Court Judge sentenced Thomas to 48 years in the Department of Corrections. "The defendant’s actions in this gruesome case were absolutely abhorrent,” said District Attorney Brian Mason. “I’m grateful to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office and my team at the DA’s Office for their hard work in this case.”
“Both of these deaths were entirely avoidable – and they are yet another example of the cost of gun violence in our community," DA Mason stated.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jesse Forrest and Senior Lead Deputy District Attorney Katelyn L. Konecny led the prosecution of the Banks case.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Prince and Senior Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Webb led the prosecution of the Thomas case.
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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.