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Case of former Greenwood Village police officer charged with teen's murder in hands of jury

Greenwood Village

By Abhishek Published 4 months ago 3 min read
Case of former Greenwood Village police officer charged with teen's murder in hands of jury
Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

An Arapahoe County jury on Friday began deliberating the case of a former Greenwood Village Police officer charged with murder in the 2021 shooting death of a 17-year-old boy after a four-day trial.

Attorneys delivered their closing statements to jurors in front of a packed gallery. Eighteenth Judicial District Judge Eric White sent jurors home about 5 p.m. Friday after they deliberated for less than three hours. They will resume Tuesday morning.

Adam Holen, 38, faces charges of second-degree murder and felony menacing in the death of 17-year-old Peyton Blitstein on Thanksgiving Eve 2021. He had resigned from the Greenwood Village Police Department three weeks before the shooting.

In every way that matters, this defendant was in the driver’s seat,” 18th Judicial Chief Deputy District Attorney Chris Gallo said in his closing statements. “He was in the driver’s seat for every single decision the night that Peyton was murdered.”

Before the incident — which occurred at around 10:30 p.m. Nov. 24, 2021, in the 4900 block of South Addison Way in Aurora — Blitstein was in a car with four other teens. Witnesses testified a truck, later identified as Holen’s, started following them.

The driver, a 16-year-old girl, told her mother that the man driving the truck pulled up beside them and complained that they were driving recklessly.

A nearby door camera caught the ensuing altercation, which involved an argument between the group of teens and Holen. Then, according to Aurora Police investigators, Holen taunted the teens from his truck by brandishing a handgun at them from the driver's seat through the front windshield.

Blitstein was also holding a handgun, according to police.

Following a barrage of yelling, Holen rounded the back of his truck. Blitstein shot first, according to arrest records, hitting Holen in the hip. Holen allegedly emptied his handgun while shooting in return fire, hitting Blitstein at least four times as he fell to the ground, the video footage showed.

The point at which Holen pulled his handgun remained a matter of contention amongst both legal teams during the entire trial.

“He didn’t shoot because he didn’t want to,” Holen’s defense team, led by defense attorney Megan Downing, said in their closing statements. “He didn’t shoot until he was shot because he feared for his life.”

The argument does not revolve around the fact that Holen shot and killed Blitstein, but whether he did so out of self-defense, or whether he was the initial aggressor in the entire incident, therefore losing the defense protection.

“How did the high school students respond? With words,” Gallo said. “When did this confrontation become physical? When [Holen] made the choice to get out of the car … He gets out of his car. He turns words into action.”

Prosecutors claim the felony menacing occurred when Holen allegedly had the gun at the low ready position. They continued that the teenagers acted as if they had seen a gun during the video footage, claiming that one of the teenagers said he had a gun pointed at him prior to Holen leaving the truck.

The defense argued that Holen did not pull the gun until he turned the back of the truck, seeing Blitstein with his weapon. Until then, they argue, Holen’s gun remained on his hip, though he was heard “jawing” at the teens with words that were “sarcastic, mocking, but not aggressive.”

Holen told detectives after the shooting that he “knew (explicative) was about to go down and had my pistol at the low ready,” according to prosecutors. He also mentioned that “three dudes were flexing on me,” referring to the teens.

The shooting, from the time Holen drove up to the Scion in his truck to the second when Blitstein was hit by gunfire and fell backwards, took less than two minutes as shown on the doorbell camera footage.

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  • Test3 months ago

    Incredible work. Very well-written!

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