Englewood man, 82, convicted in connection with killing and dismemberment of wife and daughter

He pleaded not guilty to all of the charges filed against him in January of this year. One week after the trial started, the jury began their deliberations.
reginald maclaren double homicide case englewood
Posted at 12:56 PM, Jun 28, 2024

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — An 82-year-old Englewood man accused of killing and dismembering his wife and daughter in March 2023 was convicted on all charges against him on Friday afternoon.

Closing arguments in the case wrapped up Friday morning.

Reginald Maclaren, 82, was charged with five counts in connection with the death of his wife, 70-year-old Bethany Maclaren, and his daughter, 35-year-old Ruth Jennifer Maclaren. Those charges were:

  • Two counts of first-degree murder after deliberation
  • Two counts of tampering with a deceased human body
  • False reporting (false information)

The jury convicted him on all counts.
On March 25, 2023 at around 6 p.m., Reginald Maclaren, then 81 years old, called 911 stating his wife and daughter were dead in their apartment along the 900 block of Englewood Parkway. When officers responded, they found two deceased people in trash cans and the man told them he believed they had been murdered by a person armed with a hammer. During the investigation, Englewood police determined both victims were killed with an axe. Reginald Maclaren was taken into custody.

During an interview with police, he said he planned to kill them so the family could avoid becoming homeless, according to an arrest affidavit. The document read that Reginald MacLaren told police "he does not regret killing his family as he 'knows they are in a better place.'"

The below video shows the press conference following his arrest.

Englewood man, 81, in custody after police find bodies of wife, daughter in trash cans

He was formally charged on April 3, 2023 and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him on Jan. 23, 2024.

His trial started June 21.

During closing arguments on Friday morning, the prosecution claimed that Reginald Maclaren "absolutely" knew exactly what he was doing when he killed his wife and daughter. They detailed his multi-day plan gathering the materials. The prosecution said he tried to conceal the bodies and cut up their identification cards because he knew he would face a murder charge if he was caught.

“He knows," the prosecution said. "He did it... It is clear this is premeditated murder and that this was intentionally done.”

She held up a saw and cord in the courtroom, stating both were used in the crimes.

They asked the jury to return a guilty verdict on all five charges against Reginald Maclaren.

The defense argued that the defendant's state of mind at the time of the alleged crimes is as much an element in this case as the crime itself. They brought up multiple testimonies about his mind, including witnesses who described him as distraught, irrational, incoherent and not thinking clearly around the time of the deaths. Reginald Maclaren was "solid in his faith" and completely believed the family was in deep financial trouble, even though they had insurance, an income, were up to date on bills, and likely would have been just fine, the defense said.

They also noted how he provided two different versions of the events to authorities, including one which was worse than what had actually happened. The defense said the prosecution and detectives overlooked this.

“This is not an attempt to hide evidence," the defense said. "This is someone who is not thinking straight.”

In a rebuttal, the prosecution stated this trial comes down to if Reginald Maclaren had a culpable state of mind, which is different from a motive. While a motive would have been good to learn, it's actually "irrelevant" to the charges, the prosecutor said.

"Don’t let that distract you from understanding his mind at the time," he said.

In a first-degree murder case, proving intent is crucial, he continued, adding that "intent looks like an axe to the face." He asked what anybody is intending to do when they strike a person's head and neck with an axe multiple times, if it's not to kill them.

After the closing statements, the judge told the jury they begin their deliberations to determine the verdict on the five charges against Reginald Maclaren.

A few hours later, the jury announced they had reached a unanimous verdict. The judge read it outloud and Reginald Maclaren was convicted on all charges.

He is scheduled for sentencing on July 10 at 9 a.m.

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