Maintenance worker convicted of fatally shooting Aurora teen, injuring another man

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — A jury has convicted an apartment maintenance worker in a shooting that left a teenager dead and another man injured, the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said Monday.

Margarito Najera-Soto, 45, was convicted by an Arapahoe County District Court jury on Wednesday of second-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

The convictions were tied to the death of 18-year-old Manuel Estevan Hernandez-Serrano and injuries by his 21-year-old cousin in 2017.

Najera-Soto and the victims did not know each other and had never encountered each other previously. The victims were not armed, prosecutors said.

“He emptied his handgun into a car from close range, murdering one teenager and nearly killing his cousin, and then calmly walked away,” District Attorney George Brauchler said.

“One life is cut short, an unimaginable loss for a family, and a life forever changed … all over nothing. Isn’t this why we build prisons? I am hopeful the victims find some sense of closure and justice from the jury’s verdict in this case.”

Prosecutors said on April 28, 2017, Najera-Soto was doing grounds maintenance at the Residences at Trolley Park Apartments at 1445 Dallas St. in Aurora.

Hernandez-Serrano was driving his cousin in a black Subaru Impreza on East 14th Avenue when Najera-Soto gestured toward them.

Prosecutors said Hernandez-Serrano turned around and pulled up next to Najera-Soto, who directed them into an alley near a parking garage.

After some words were exchanged, Najera-Soto fired six times from a .38 caliber handgun into the vehicle.

Hernandez-Serrano was shot in the head and chest and died. His cousin, who was not identified, was shot in the knee, arm and abdomen and recovered.

Najera-Soto then called 911 and waited at the scene until the Aurora Police Department arrived.

The defense claimed self-defense at trial.

“We cannot explain why the defendant did it, but we know it was not self-defense or the heat of passion — it was murder,” Senior Deputy District Attorney Brittany Martin said.

Najera-Soto will be sentenced on June 21. He is facing 16 to 48 years in prison.

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