Kids who kill: How Colorado handles juveniles convicted of murder

Posted at 9:32 PM, Jun 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-15 13:20:36-04

DENVER -- As 17th Judicial District Attorney Dave Young seeks adult charges against the 15-year-old charged with the murder of 10-year-old Kiaya Campbell, Colorado prisons hold at least 59 inmates convicted of committing murder before they turned 18.

Data obtained by Denver7 Investigates from the Colorado Department of Corrections shows 28 of those offenders were 16-years-old or younger at the time of the crime. Of these offenders, the youngest killer at the time of the murder was John Engel, who had barely turned 14 when he killed his mother and adoptive grandmother in 1999. He was released to a halfway house in 2008 but violated his probation within months and returned to prison.

John Engel

The longest-serving of these juvenile offenders currently in a Colorado prison is Steven Angelini, who committed murder at the age of 16 in 1978. He is now 55 years old. The parole board is scheduled to hear his case in the next two months.

Steven Angelini

Several of the offenders are in secret locations, having been transferred out of state by CDOC through the process known as the interstate compact. Those killers include Austin Sigg, who was 17 years old when he killed 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway, and John Caudle, who killed his mother and stepfather in 2009 at the age of 14.

Austin Sigg

Colorado no longer sentences juveniles convicted of murder to life without the possibility of parole.

In 2016, the legislature passed a law allowing judges to re-sentence 48 offenders who were serving life without parole. A spokesperson for the Department of Corrections told Denver7 Investigates five of those offenders have had their sentences changed.