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Man accused of killing burglary suspect in Commerce City sentenced to 28 years in prison

Posted at 3:30 PM, Oct 20, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-20 18:10:14-04

BRIGHTON, Colo. — A defendant accused of shooting a suspect who was allegedly burglarizing a food market in 2021 has been sentenced after he was convicted of second-degree murder.

William Paul Schuette, 23, was convicted on Aug. 7, according to the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. On Friday, he was sentenced to 28 years in the Department of Corrections.

"While this was a tragic case on multiple levels, justice is ultimately reserved for the courtroom, not the streets," said District Attorney Brian Mason. "It's not the job of a man standing on his upstairs apartment balcony to pull out an assault rifle and open fire on a group of people in a car because he believes a crime is in progress. This defendant had no right to take the law into his own hands and take another man's life. I'm thankful the jury saw it the same way."

The murder charge stemmed from Feb. 8, 2021. Shortly before 4:50 a.m., Schuette, who was 20 at the time, woke up to the sound of a burglary alarm at the Haraf Foods Market, a neighborhood convenience store along Belle Creek Boulevard in Commerce City. He, along with his girlfriend, lived in an apartment above the market.

He told police that he yelled for the multiple suspects to stop burglarizing the store before he got an AR-15 rifle and returned to the balcony, according to an arrest affidavit.

He opened fire four times on a suspect vehicle — a Volkswagen — as the driver attempted to drive away.

The driver of that car, later identified as 24-year-old James Anthony Martinez, was hit by the gunfire twice and crashed into several other vehicles. He died at the scene.

Schuette approached officers at the scene and turned himself in.

He pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge.

After six days of trial, an Adams County jury convicted him of second-degree murder on Aug. 7. He was sentenced to 28 years in prison on Friday.

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