Man gets life for deaths of pair from Colorado, Kansas

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — A jury has convicted a Colorado Springs man in a 2018 double-slaying in which a woman and man were shot and left in a burning car in a scheme to steal marijuana.

The panel on Friday found Nashid Rayon Rivers guilty of first-degree murder in the killings of Serena Garcia and Marcus Denton on the city’s southwest side, The Gazette reported.

Garcia was 21 and lived in Parker. Denton was 20 and was from Atchison, Kansas.

Rivers also was convicted of aggravated robbery, tampering with human bodies and other counts. Fourth Judicial District Judge Frances Johnson imposed an automatic penalty of life in prison without parole.

“I’m innocent,” Rivers told the judge in a profanity-laced tirade after the verdict.

Jurors returned their verdict after more than two days of deliberation, after a trial that lasted about two weeks.

According to prosecutors, Rivers and Marquis Hazard conspired to lure Denton to a drug deal at which Rivers would kill him and take his marijuana, and Hazard would be the getaway driver.

Garcia was essentially a bystander who had driven to pick up Denton after he crashed his vehicle on a snowy road, prosecutors said. At the meet-up Rivers ambushed Denton and Garcia from inside their car, shooting them in the head, testimony showed.

Rivers then used gasoline to set fire to the car but accidentally burned himself, causing him to flee without the marijuana. Hazard, 22, and his girlfriend, Shailynn Ryles, 21, returned to the scene to collect the pot, authorities said.

Hazard is also charged with first-degree murder under the complicity theory, accused of helping to plot and cover up the robbery. His trial is scheduled for September. Ryles, a key witness against Rivers, has pleaded guilty to accessory to murder under a deal that will result in probation.

Attorneys for Rivers tried to convince the panel that Hazard was the mastermind and shooter, but prosecutors cited evidence that the defendant wielded the gun, including that the murder weapon was found in Rivers’ home.

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