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Man sentenced to prison following fatal double shooting outside Westminster bar

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Posted at 11:04 AM, Feb 04, 2022

ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — A man convicted of murdering two people in a shooting outside a Westminster bar in March will serve two life sentences.

On Thursday, Steven Muniz, 40, was sentenced in Adams County District Court to two life sentences in prison without the possibility of parole.

He was convicted on Dec. 23, 2021 of two counts of first-degree murder. An Adams County jury had returned with multiple guilty verdicts after the nine-day trial.

During Muniz's sentencing, District Attorney Brian S. Mason said the brutal murder of the two victims shattered many lives.

"The heartfelt words from the loved ones of Keith Ames and Jessica Ybarra during today’s sentencing hearing were painful and powerful," Mason said. "The defendant will now spend the rest of his life in prison because of his crimes. I hope he takes some time to contemplate the words he heard in court today.”

The charges stem from an incident in early March.

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Steven Muniz and Robert Manzanares.

On March 5, Muniz went to the Sportswatch Bar and Grill on Lowell Boulevard in Westminster. He joined family, friends and members of a gang that he was a part of, according to the district attorney's office.

At some point that evening, his group and another group began arguing with each other. It turned physical when Muniz hit a person, but ended shortly afterward, according to the district attorney's office.

In the early hours of March 6, as people began to leave the car, Muniz confronted one of the men involved in the earlier confrontation. That man has been identified as Keith Ames, 33. At some point during their interaction, Muniz fired four shots from a 9mm handgun and two bullets struck Ames in the back, according to the district attorney's office.

Ames died of his injuries.

The other two gunshots struck 31-year-old Jessica Ybarra in her foot and back. She was standing in the parking lot nearby at the time. She also died of her injuries.

Muniz then fled on foot and jumped into a friend's truck, who was later identified as Robert Manzanares. They drove from the scene, according to the district attorney's office.

About two weeks later, Muniz was identified and taken into custody.

Manzanares was convicted of accessory to a crime on Dec. 3 and was sentenced to three years in prison.