Plea deal in works in beating death

Prosecutors on Wednesday moved to dismiss a charge of second-degree murder in connection with a fatal beating in November outside a downtown Grand Junction bar.

Sahr Benjamin Mbawa, 27, is now scheduled for a plea hearing Feb. 4 before District Judge Brian Flynn after attorneys signaled an agreement was nearly finalized.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Rubinstein said the prosecution’s case for pressing a murder charge “didn’t develop in a way we were hoping.” He declined to speak in more detail.

“We would have to prove he knowingly caused the death of another, and he was practically certain the result would occur,” Rubinstein said of the elements of second-degree murder.

The prosecutor declined comment on the terms of Mbawa’s proposed plea agreement.

Mbawa is still charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon, his fist, felony counts of reckless manslaughter and three sentence-enhancing counts of being a habitual criminal. If convicted at trial on the habitual counts, Mbawa would face a maximum penalty of 64 years in prison.

Mbawa was arrested Nov. 6 in Denver, three days after the beating death of 32-year-old Richard Martinez in an early-morning brawl at Sixth and Main streets. Both men, along with a third party, were involved in a confrontation while inside Quincy Bar, 609 Main St., according to an arrest affidavit.

Witnesses described Martinez repeatedly being punched and kicked.

The affidavit alleges Mbawa and a friend were later captured on video surveillance at a Clifton gas station, where Mbawa was overheard telling a friend, “I beat his ass, and I think I killed him.”


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