Man sentenced to life in prison for machete attack on friend

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Tyrus Vanmatre, 21, was sentenced to life in prison for an attack with a machete on a friend. (Photo: Fifth Judicial District Attorney's Office)

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — A man was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole Thursday evening.

21-year-old Tyrus Vanmatre was convicted in Sept. 2015 for a June 2014 machete attack on a host of charges: first-degree kidnapping, second-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, conspiracy to commit assault, menacing and reckless endangerment.

Vanmatre was convicted of planning and attempting to kill a friend, Jadon Jellis, in the mountains along with a 16-year-old accomplice.

Vanmatre, Jellis and the 16-year old drove from the Denver area late the night of June 16, 2014 to Summit County to purportedly attend a party. Vanmatre, who was familiar with Summit County, after having attended Summit High School his senior year, told Jellis the party was up over the top of Swan Mountain.

As the three were hiking, Jellis heard Vanmatre say – “This seems like the perfect spot” – just before the 16-year old accomplice tried to tase Jellis with a stun gun.

Vanmatre then struck Jellis across the face, head and hand with an 18-inch serrated sword, causing both nasal and facial fractures above his left eye, his nose and nearly severing his left thumb.  Jellis fought back using a knife of VanMatre’s he had taken from the vehicle, after he sensed that something wasn’t right when Vanmatre and the 16-year old, armed themselves with swords and a combat knife before the hike.

Sword and sheath used by Vanmatre in the attack. (Photo: Fifth Judicial District Attorney's Office)

Sword and sheath used by Vanmatre in the attack. (Photo: Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office)

Jellis used the knife to fend off his attackers and then escaped down the mountain, where he flagged down a passing Deputy from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Vanmatre stated during an interview that he and the 16-year old had planned on tying Jellis up and stunning him repeatedly and then scaring him with swords. During the trial, a longtime friend of Vanmatre testified that Vanmatre had on several past occasions commented that if he ever killed someone that he would do it in the mountains where the body would never be found.

“The citizens of Colorado are safer with Mr. Vanmatre in prison. He is a dangerous criminal who planned to kill a man he called a friend in the mountains of Colorado,” said Fifth Judicial District Attorney Bruce Brown.  “The victim’s quick thinking and the professionalism of the off-duty Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy who rescued him from the side of the road at 2:00 am kept this crime from being a homicide,” Brown added.

Vanmatrew was sentencing to life in prison on the first-degree kidnapping charge and to an additional 112 years in prison to be served concurrently with the life sentence, which include:

  • 32 years for Attempted Murder (crime of violence);
  • 48 years for Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Kidnapping (crime of violence);
  • 32 years for 1st Degree Assault with a Deadly Weapon (crime of violence);
  • 16 years for Conspiracy to Commit 1st Degree Assault;
  • 3 years for Felony Menacing; and,
  • 6 months jail for Reckless Endangerment.

The facility where Vanmatre will serve his time has not yet been determined by the Colorado Department of Corrections.

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