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Man sentenced after fatally shooting man, dumping body in Westminster field in 2020

gavel
Posted at 9:24 AM, Jan 13, 2023

BRIGHTON, Colo. — A 22-year-old man was convicted and sentenced after prosecutors found he shot and killed another man and dumped his body in a Westminster field in 2020.

On Aug. 12, 2022, an Adams County jury convicted Christopher John Matthews, 22, of second-degree murder in connection with the death of Tanner Andre Banderet, 20. This week, Matthews was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the crime.

The trial lasted five days in Adams County District Court.

The charge stemmed from a shooting that happened almost exactly two years prior — early in the morning on Aug. 13, 2020. Matthews, who was 20 years old at the time, picked up Banderet from a Westminster apartment for a cocaine deal, according to the 17th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

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As Matthews drove near 116th Avenue and Pecos Street, he grabbed his handgun from the center console and fired one shot at Banderet. Banderet was hit behind his left ear in the carotid artery, according to the district attorney's office.

As Banderet was dying in the seat, Matthews took off his shirt and put it over the victim's head. He then drove to a field along the 3200 block of W. 84th Avenue in Westminster and dumped the body. He emptied Banderet's pockets — which had cash, cocaine and identification information — before taking off, the district attorney's office said.

Around 6:40 p.m. that day, a driver reported to police that they had seen a body in the field, and police responded to the scene. According to an affidavit, the man had "obvious trauma," including bruising on his face and bloodied clothing. A few days later, they determined the person's death was a homicide.

In the wake of the murder, Matthews cleaned his vehicle and disposed of evidence.

However, the Westminster Police Department was able to identify him as the suspect about three weeks after the crime.

Matthews was taken into custody on Sept. 4, 2020. He was formally charged with first-degree murder a few days later.

The district attorney's office said Matthews lied about what happened and eventually claimed he acted in self-defense.

During his trial in August, prosecutors disproved that claim and the jury found him guilty of second-degree murder.

On Wednesday, an Adams County judge sentenced Matthews to 35 years in the Department of Corrections.

"This defendant destroyed a life,” said District Attorney Brian Mason. “He will now serve a lengthy sentence for this serious crime. I am grateful to my team at the DA’s Office for their hard work on this challenging case and to the jury for returning a just verdict.”