People v. John Anthony Vasquez

The summaries of the Colorado Court of Appeals published opinions constitute no part of the opinion of the division but have been prepared by the division for the convenience of the reader. The summaries may not be cited or relied upon as they are not the official language of the division. Any discrepancy between the language in the summary and in the opinion should be resolved in favor of the language in the opinion. SUMMARY September 8, 2022 2022COA100 No. 18CA1486, People v. Vasquez — Crimes — Felony Murder — Fourth Degree Arson A division of the court of appeals considers whether someone can be convicted of fourth degree arson for lighting another person’s clothing on fire while that person is wearing the clothing. Answering that question in the affirmative, the division further concludes that the above-described act can serve as the predicate felony for felony murder under Colorado law. COLORADO COURT OF APPEALS 2022COA100 Court of Appeals No. 18CA1486 Clear Creek County District Court No. 16CR55 Honorable Mark D. Thompson, Judge The People of the State of Colorado, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. John Anthony Vasquez, Defendant-Appellant. JUDGMENT AFFIRMED AND CASE REMANDED WITH DIRECTIONS Division IV Opinion by JUDGE BERNARD* Pawar and Brown, JJ., concur Announced September 8, 2022 Philip J. Weiser, Attorney General, Katharine Gillespie, Senior Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellee Megan A. Ring, Colorado State Public Defender, Kamela Maktabi, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellant *Sitting by assignment of the Chief Justice under provisions of Colo. Const. art. VI, § 5(3), and § 24-51-1105, C.R.S. 2021. ¶1 This case presents two related questions of first impression in Colorado. First, can someone be convicted of fourth degree arson for lighting another person’s clothing on fire while that person is wearing the clothing? Second, if so, can such an arson serve as the predicate felony for felony murder? We answer both questions “yes.” Accordingly, we affirm the felony murder conviction of defendant, John Anthony Vasquez, and otherwise affirm the judgment of conviction. I. Background ¶2 Defendant and the victim were in a relationship. In June 2016, they decided to go camping with the victim’s sons, who were then six and ten years old, near Idaho Springs. ¶3 The trip got off to a bad start. They arrived at the destination after dark, and they could not figure out how to set up their tent. This led to a shouting match, and defendant locked himself in their vehicle. Eventually, one of the victim’s sons called 911, but the victim reported that nothing was wrong. ¶4 Things would go very wrong. ¶5 In the morning, after everyone had spent the night in the vehicle, its battery was dead. Defendant and the victim began to 1 argue again, and the argument escalated quickly. The victim grabbed a bottle of beer from which defendant had been drinking and smashed it. Defendant then picked up a can of gasoline, poured its contents on the victim, and lit her clothing on fire with a …

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