Suspect in killing may have admitted crime, affidavit says

A man suspected of a fatal beating outside a downtown Grand Junction bar was heard minutes later at a local gas station saying he might have killed a man, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

“I beat his ass, and I think I killed him,” 27-year-old Sahr Benjamin Mbawa told a friend while inside the Corner Store at 32 and E roads early Tuesday, the affidavit alleges. The conversation was overheard by a store clerk, who said the suspect was laughing and talking to a friend about the fight, according to the affidavit.

“The male stated he was sucker punched but that he got the male,” the affidavit said.

It alleges that Mbawa and a second man are seen on video surveillance at the store shortly after the beating outside Quincy Bar, 609 Main St., that killed 32-year-old Richard Lee Martinez.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, Mbawa was still wanted on suspicion of second-degree murder and first-degree assault. Bond has been set at $300,000.

Martinez was pronounced dead at St. Mary’s Hospital just after 2 a.m. Tuesday. Witnesses described Martinez repeatedly being punched and kicked following an incident inside Quincy Bar.

An autopsy showed Martinez died of blunt-force trauma to the head and neck.

A friend of Mbawa’s told a Grand Junction police detective the incident started after Martinez sucker-punched Mbawa inside the bar, according to the affidavit.

All involved then left the bar.

“Sahr banged Richie’s head against a pole and then knocked Richie down,” Mbawa’s friend told a detective. “Sahr then kicked Richie in the face.”

The friend said he and Mbawa then left together in a car and stopped at a Clifton gas station.

Mbawa and his friend were employed as bouncers at Whiskey River Bar.

The affidavit said Martinez’s assault was witnessed by at least two others, including a taxi cab driver who told detectives she stopped on Main Street in an attempt to intervene in the brawl.

“(Driver) said the black male threw a second punch that hit (Martinez) in the face, and the victim fell to the ground,” the affidavit said. “(Driver) said the victim hit the pedestrian crosswalk sign with his head when he fell.”

Martinez, while clutching the sign, was kicked twice in the abdomen, the affidavit said.

The victim got to his feet and started walking away, then was punched yet again by the suspect, the affidavit said.

“... The third punch laid him out, and he did not get up again,” the affidavit said.


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