Jury finds man guilty in Summit County machete attack
BRECKENRIDGE — As the jury deliberated into the late hours of Thursday night, the Tyrus Vanmatre and Jadon Jellis waited for a verdict. The jury would decide whether or not Vanmatre would be found guilty of attempted second-degree murder, after allegedly conspiring with a juvenile to bring Jellis to a remote location in Summit County, stun him and attack him with machetes.
“This crime is unthinkable — to lure a friend to an isolated area in the mountains where you immobilize them with a stun gun and then attack them with a sword is something out of a horror movie,” District Attorney Bruce Brown said in a statment.
Just earlier that afternoon, the prosecution made one final argument, that Vanmatre’s final testimony was just another rendition in a series of lies.
“Credibility, ladies and gentlemen, that is what this is going to come down to,” assistant district attorney Heidi McCollum said. “Keep in mind the number of versions that you’ve heard, and the reasons for those versions, and that every one of those versions seems to match a little bit more with newly discovered evidence.”
Private defense attorney Douglas Romero asked the jury to find Vanmatre not guilty on all counts, adding that Vanmatre’s final testimony, before his family, was the truth.
“… You know what, he came clean yesterday, at least he admitted it. He said, ‘I’m here to straighten things out, tell my family the truth of exactly what happened.”
Vanmatre turned toward his mother, and they both nodded, at these words.
They received their answer, when the jury finally had a verdict, at 11:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The room was silent, and a few jurors were tearful, as Fifth Judicial District Judge Mark Thompson read through the list of nine charges.
• Guilty of first-degree kidnapping, resulting in serious bodily injury.
• Guilty of attempted second-degree murder, resulting in serious bodily injury. The jury found that the defendant was not acting in self-defense, nor in the heat of passion.
• Guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping, resulting in serious bodily injury.
• Not guilty of second-degree kidnapping.
• Guilty of first-degree assault, not acting in self-defense, nor the heat of passion.
• Guilty of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, resulting in serious bodily injury.
• Not guilty of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.
• Guilty of menacing, with the use of a deadly weapon, and not in self-defense.
• Guilty of reckless endangerment.
Vanmatre’s mother sat silently, rocking her baby, while Vanmatre sat stone-faced following the verdict. On the opposite side of the gallery, Jellis hugged his girlfriend.
“I don’t even know what to say … I’m very proud of the people’s work,” he said.
Deputy district attorney John Franks commended the Summit County Sheriff’s Office for their thorough investigation of the case.
“They worked so hard from the very first day,” Franks said.
He added that Vanmatre faces a life sentence, as first-degree kidnapping resulting in serious bodily injury is a Class I felony. Franks noted that the other sentences, including second-degree attempted murder, and first-degree assault, are substantial as well.
“We really feel like justice is done and the world is a safer place for it,” Franks said. “I’m very respectful of the work from the representatives of the jury. They obviously worked very hard.”
Vanmatre’s mother and grandmother walked quietly out of the courtroom, with tears in their eyes. Vanmatre will return to court for sentencing by Thompson on Oct. 29 at 1:30 p.m.
A cash reward is being offered for information leading to locating Ryan Daniels. The local 19-year old man went missing May 22.