AURORA | An Arapahoe County jury this week convicted a former auto mechanic of second-degree murder for shooting and killing a teenager in an Aurora alley in 2017.
Jurors deliberated for about a day before finding Margarito Najera, 45, guilty of killing 18-year-old Manuel Estevan Hernandez-Serrano the morning of April 28, 2017, according to Vikki Migoya, spokeswoman for the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Najera was also found guilty of two other charges filed against him: second-degree attempted murder and first-degree felony assault.
Najera was originally charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder, but jurors settled on lesser charges on both of those counts.
Police said Najera fired several rounds into a car in which Hernandez-Serrano, his 18-year-old cousin and a 16-year-old girl were driving around 8:45 a.m. on April 28, 2017 in north Aurora, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Sentinel.
Hernandez-Serrano and his cousin decided to confront Najera after they believed he made a “hand gesture” at them as they drove along East 14th Avenue in a Subaru sedan.
Najera reportedly accused Hernandez-Serrano and his cousin of speeding through the area and “burning out the tires in the alley,” according to the arrest document.
Najera told the teenagers to pull into the alley between Clinton Street and Dallas Street to “show them the tire marks,” police said.
He then ran up to the right side of the car and began shooting into the vehicle using a semi-automatic handgun, witnesses told police. Najera was arrested at the scene moments after the shooting.
Hernandez-Serrano was pronounced dead about 20 minutes later at University Hospital after being shot in the head and right arm. Hernandez-Serrano’s cousin survived the incident despite being shot in the knee, arm and stomach, according to the affidavit.
When asked if he had shot at the teens, Najera told police “yeah,” according to the arrest document.
A native of Mexico, Najera had only been arrested once in Colorado prior to the April 2017 shooting, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. In March 2000, he was arrested in Denver on charges of assault, trespassing and disturbing the peace.
The prospective sentencing range for the top count of second-degree murder is between 16 and 48 years, according to Migoya.
Najera also faces a pair of sentence-enhancing charges for using a weapon to commit a violent crime. If those charges are added, Najera could face a significantly longer sentence.
Najera is scheduled to be sentenced at 3 p.m. on June 21 in Arapahoe County District Court.