Man charged after game of Russian roulette ends with 1 dead in Westminster apartment

Posted at 9:53 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-01 16:55:58-05

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. – A man who was pulled over for suspected drunk driving which later led police to conduct a homicide investigation at an apartment complex in Westminster last week, has been charged with manslaughter as details about what led to the deadly shooting come to light.

Marquis Leon Brooks, 21, was charged Tuesday with manslaughter in the death of 22-year-old Zachary Espinosa-Bivens, according to a press release from the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

The charges stem from a February 22 traffic stop conducted at around 2 a.m. by Westminster police.

An officer reportedly stopped a red Nissan following a traffic violation and found Brooks driving the vehicle with two other men, identified as Elmer Trujillo and Andrew Duran.

In an affidavit obtained by Denver7, Westminster police said the arresting officer determined Brooks was under the influence of an intoxicating beverage or drug.

Brooks was arrested for DUI and brought to the Westminster Police Department for questioning. There, police found Brooks had with him two 45-caliber bullets in his pants pocket and a plastic baggy that contained approximately two grams of suspect cocaine, according to the arrest affidavit. The vehicle Brooks was driving was also searched for a weapon, but none was found.

The two other men found in the vehicle with Brooks at the time of the DUI arranged for the vehicle to be taken away from the scene and were let go, according to police

A short time later, police received a call from one of the occupants in the car, who had been told by Duran that he saw someone shoot Duran's cousin, Espinosa-Bivens.

The woman on the other line, the mother of Duran’s girlfriend, told police that the person responsible for the shooting was Brooks, who had just been arrested for DUI.

A dispatcher on the other line then spoke to Duran, who told police he wanted to speak with an officer about the shooting which took place at the Edgewood Apartments located at 6980 Stuart Street.

During the interview, Duran told police that Brooks was playing Russian roulette with a gun before shooting Espinosa-Bivens in the head, according to the arrest affidavit.

Duran told police that the apartment was leased under Brooks’ name and that Espinosa-Bivens had moved in as a roommate.

When police responded to the apartment, they found Espinosa-Bivens dead with a gunshot wound to the head.

Duran told police that before the shooting took place, all of them had been drinking and that Brooks was taking Xanax and using cocaine. Brooks was also talking about suicide before he brought out a gun and unloaded all of the bullets save for one, according to the arrest affidavit.

He said Brooks then spun the cylinder of the revolver and shut the cylinder, acting like he wanted to play Russian roulette.  

During the interview, Duran told police Brooks pointed the hand gun at his own head stating, “let’s see if this is my time” and pulled the trigger. The gun did not fire, and Books then made a statement saying, “I guess it wasn’t my time,” the affidavit states.

Duran also told police Brooks then leaned next to Espinosa-Bivens who said “something to the effect of ‘let’s see if it’s my time,’" before he was shot in the head, falling to the floor in an awkward position, according to the affidavit.

In the interview, Duran told police that Brooks started yelling “what should I do, what should I do” after he realized he had just shot Espinosa-Bivens. Duran then reportedly ran from the apartment after witnessing the shooting.

Elmer Trujillo, who was also in the car with Espinosa-Bivens and Duran during the DUI arrest, also spoke to police.

He told the interviewing officer he was in the apartment lying on a bed when he heard a gunshot coming from Brooks’ revolver, which he said he carried for self-protection.

The arrest affidavit also states that Brooks was later interviewed by police, and admitted to picking up the gun, unloading four bullets from the cylinder and pointing the gun at his own head before pulling the trigger, knowing the gun would not discharge.

Brooks then told police Espinosa-Bivens then leaned over and told him to do that to him, which Brooks did not expecting the gun to go off. He told police that while he did shoot the gun, he did not intend on killing or shooting Espinosa-Bivens.

“Brooks stated that this was an accident and he would never have killed his best friend,” the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, Brooks said the gun belonged to Espinosa-Bivens and was not his, contradicting Duran’s statement from an earlier interview.

Brooks faces other charges including: possession of a controlled substance, special offender involving a deadly weapon, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A preliminary hearing is set for March 23 at 2:30 p.m. in Division 2 of Adams County Court. Brooks is being held on a $10,000 bond.

An attempt from Denver7 to reach Brooks’ attorney or public defender was unsuccessful Wednesday evening.