3 defendants sentenced in connection with murder of 81-year-old Lakewood man

Posted at 11:16 AM, Jul 21, 2023

GOLDEN, Colo. — Three people have been sentenced in connection with the murder of an 81-year-old man in Lakewood in 2021.

Ricardo Perez, 37, Jay Griffith, 22, and Savannah Wilson, 26, were all arrested in 2021 for their roles in the crime and were convicted and sentenced this month.

According to the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Gail Wilson, 81, was living in Lakewood in 2021. Early that year, his wife died and his adopted daughter, Savannah Wilson, her boyfriend Perez and their friend Griffith moved into Gail Wilson's home.

Around June, tension began growing between Gail Wilson and Perez over rent, bills, chores and Perez's frequent use of Wilson's pickup truck, according to the district attorney's office.

Police said Thursday they believe a Lakewood man missing since Halloween might have been killed and his remains dumped in “numerous areas” in the Capitol Hill area.

On Oct. 31, 2021, an argument broke out in the morning over misplaced items, and Perez attacked Gail Wilson. He punched him in the face and slammed his head against a dresser, according to prosecutors. They told jurors that Perez then beat the man to death with a baseball bat.

Savannah Wilson and Griffith testified that Perez ordered them to dispose of the body, which they did, according to the district attorney's office. According to this testimony, the trio wrapped the body in black roofing plastic and loaded it into Gail Wilson's red Ford F-150. They also loaded a large piece of carpet, the bat and items used to clean the scene, according to the district attorney's office.

Perez and Griffith then drove to the Cheesman Park area of Denver and left the items in various garbage cans and dumpsters.

Gail Wilson was reported missing the following day.

About 10 days after the murder, Savannah Wilson and Griffith confessed what had happened to Lakewood detectives.



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Over the span of several weeks, police searched for the body but could not find it. However, DNA evidence and blood splatter in the home confirmed Gail Wilson had been injured in some way. In addition, Perez's fingerprints were found on items used for disposal of the body. Investigators also used fiber analysis, phone tracking and surveillance cameras to build the case.

A jury convicted Perez of first-degree murder on July 14. He was sentenced to life in prison, plus 12 years, on the following four counts: first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, attempt to influence, and tampering with physical evidence.

Both Savannah Wilson and Griffith pleaded guilty in 2022 to accessory to a crime and concealing death in exchange for their testimony. They were sentenced on Thursday.

Members of the Wilson family offered forgiveness and support to Griffith during his sentencing, but said Savannah Wilson was a "monster." Griffith received five years of probation, substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment, and mental health evaluation and any recommended treatment, according to the district attorney's office. Savannah Wilson was sentenced to seven years of probation, substance abuse and mental health evaluations and any recommended treatment.

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