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People v. Espinoza.

2020 CO 43. No. 17SC830. Sentencing and Punishment—Concurrent and Consecutive Sentencing—Crimes of Violence.

May 26, 2020

The People petitioned for review of the Court of Appeals’ judgment reversing the trial court’s imposition of consecutive sentences for Espinoza’s 10 convictions for the attempted first degree murder of 10 different people. Reasoning that Espinoza’s 10 attempted murder convictions were separate crimes of violence, the trial court considered itself bound by statute to impose consecutive sentences. The intermediate appellate court, however, found that because the 10 convictions were premised on a “single act of fire-setting,” they were supported by identical evidence, notwithstanding the fact that each conviction required proof that Espinoza attempted to kill a different person. Further concluding that convictions for multiple crimes of violence that are supported by identical evidence do not fall within the statutory mandate to sentence consecutively, the intermediate appellate court reversed and remanded for resentencing.

The Supreme Court reversed, holding that even according to the intermediate appellate court’s understanding of the term “separate crimes of violence,” Espinoza’s convictions required consecutive sentences pursuant to CRS § 18-1.3-406(1)(a), because offenses defined in terms of their victimization of another and committed against different victims are not capable of being proved by identical evidence within the contemplation of CRS § 18-1-408(3).

Official Colorado Supreme Court proceedings can be found at the Colorado Supreme Court website.

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