Broomfield Defendant Convicted of Manslaughter, Sentenced to 24 Years in Prison for Killing 71-Year-Old Man While Breaking Into Cars
September 6, 2023
Broomfield, CO — Today, 17th Judicial District Attorney Brian Mason is announcing the jury’s verdict and subsequent prison sentence for Joseph Maestas-Sanchez, 24, following a six-day jury trial in Broomfield County District Court.
On August 25, 2021, Joseph Maestas-Sanchez fatally shot 71-year-old Michael Lewis in the head while breaking into vehicles in the Sunridge Circle area of Broomfield.
Lewis, who lived in the neighborhood, approached Maestas-Sanchez during the break-ins, and the defendant fired the fatal shot. Maestas-Sanchez fled the area, and Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene.
Maestas-Sanchez was charged with Second-Degree Murder, First-Degree Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, and Criminal Trespass. He was tried in Broomfield County District Court in April 2023. The jury found him guilty of Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft and Criminal Trespass but were unable to reach a verdict on the Second-Degree Murder charge.
The defendant's re-trial on the Second-Degree Murder charge started on August 28, 2023. Following four days of trial, and two days of deliberation, the jury found him guilty of Manslaughter, a lesser charge.
Following the verdict, the Judge sentenced Maestas-Sanchez to 24 years in the Department of Corrections on the three charges for which he was found guilty.
"This defendant's actions were senseless, horrific and shocking," said District Attorney Brian Mason. "Michael Lewis was simply looking out for his neighborhood and was brutally gunned down by this defendant. Although a challenging case that led to two trials, my staff and the Broomfield Police Department never wavered. They stayed the course, they fought for justice, and did everything in their power to deliver a just outcome. I am proud of their efforts. My deepest thoughts and sincerest condolences remain with the loved ones of Michael Lewis as they continue to deal with this unimaginable loss."
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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.