AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A man convicted and re-sentenced in the “1998 Labor Day Massacre” in Aurora is now applying to get out of jail in a few years.
Five months ago, days before Christmas, Alexander Pogosyan was re-sentenced to five consecutive sentences of life with the possibility of parole in the deaths of five people. The loved ones of his victims thought, with credit and time served, the earliest Pogosyan could get out was 17 years, but days ago, they got a letter telling them otherwise.
“I don’t know if I’m more shocked, angry or sad. There’s just so many emotions to process,” Kayla Reichert said.
Reichert was 7 years old the day her mother and brother were killed in the massacre.
“I will always remember my mom laying on the ground. Blood pouring out. And then I’m standing on the stairs above her, screaming as the person who just shot her runs by me,” Reichert said.
She relived this trauma last December in court, reading out her child therapy diary at Pogosyan’s re-sentencing. Pogosyan is convicted of first-degree felony murder in the killings of her mother, her brother and three other people.
The killings took the lives of Zach Obert, Edgardo Morales Jr., Marissa Avalos, Greg Medla and Penny Medla Bowman.
Days ago, Reichert got a letter from the Colorado Department of Corrections in the mail saying Pogosyan applied for the Juveniles Convicted as Adults Program. If approved, he’d be eligible to apply for early parole in a few years.
“I wasn’t even given the chance to take a breath and cope, figure out how to deal with the next 17 years before his next chance to get out again,” Reichert said
District attorney explains the Juveniles Convicted as Adults Program
FOX31 reached out to the 18th Judicial District Attorney John Kellner, asking for his take and a greater explanation of the program. He provided the following statement and breakdown:
“I oppose Mr. Pogosyan’s application to the JCAP program,” Kellner said. “My heart goes out to the victims’ loved ones who have suffered so much at the hands of this defendant and now have to deal with the prospect that a mass murderer may be released on parole. This situation highlights why we need truth in sentencing in Colorado.
“Summary of Juveniles Convicted As Adults Program (JCAP):
- Created in statute: CRS 17-34-101-102
- Any juvenile sentenced as an adult for any felony is eligible
- Eligible after 20 years for Class 2 felonies
- Eligible to apply after 25 years for F-1 felony murder
- Eligible to apply after 25 years for F-1 murder “after deliberation” but must serve 30 years of sentence before release.
- The Exec director of DOC decides who is admitted based upon:
- No Mental health treatment for serious mental illness
- Has GED or HS Diploma
- Completed programs in DOC
- Accepted responsibility for their crime
- Nature of offense
- Age and maturity at time of offense
- Behavior in DOC
- Impact on the victim
- Risk and needs of the offender
- Victim’s family has a right to be informed of application to program
- If denied admittance may re-apply in three years
- Program is basically a life-skills program for those who never lived independently – includes increased work responsibility – more independence in daily living.
- If completed offender is eligible to apply for early parole and is presumed to be safe in the community unless rebutted with competent evidence.
Mr. Pogosyan was originally sentenced on 9/27/99 and had about a year of pre-sentence confinement credit. Mr. Pogosyan was re-sentenced to 5 consecutive ‘life with the possibility of parole after 40 years’ sentences. Due to the consecutive nature of his sentences, it is unclear if he is eligible for JCAP at all, or if the Dept of Corrections will reject his application. The District Attorney is not notified of JCAP applications.”
Alexander Pogosyan’s attorney releases statement
Pogosyan’s attorney, Michael Juba, shared the following statement with FOX31:
“Colorado established the JCAP program in response to rulings by the United States Supreme Court that held children are constitutionally different than adults for purposes of sentencing and should be given a meaningful opportunity for release. Alex Pogosyan was a child when these offenses occurred, and he deserves the protections afforded to him by the Supreme Court. The jury in this case convicted Mr. Pogosyan of felony murder, which means that the jury found he was present when the offenses occurred. But, the jury also specifically found that Mr. Pogosyan did not cause the deaths of any of the victims in this case. Michael Martinez is the one who killed these victims, but Mr. Martinez was murdered before he was brought to justice. It is time to stop using Mr. Pogosyan as a scapegoat for Mr. Martinez’s actions and to give Mr. Pogosyan the opportunity to demonstrate that he has been rehabilitated.”
“When I was sitting there, 7 years old, watching my mom die, that was a child and you took that away from her at that moment,” Reichert said. “So from that point on, I was no longer a child.”
Reichert said she plans on sending the Department of Corrections a written statement Thursday along with statements from seven other victims’ loved ones.