Four years, countless tears later

Los Sauces case finally closed

ALAMOSA — Families of the five victims murdered by Adre Baroz in 2020 may, hopefully, have a measure of peace following court proceedings on Friday, May 3, when District Judge Michael Gonzales, who presided in the case from preliminary to conviction, handed down sentences from the bench.

The proceedings related to Baroz, 29, pleading guilty to the brutal murder, dismemberment and tampering with the remains of Korina Arroyo, Selena Esquibel, Myron Robert Martinez, Xavier Zeven Garcia and Shayla Hammel within a seven-week period. After being dismembered, and in an egregious final act, the remains of all five people were burned in two different burn pits in Los Sauces, a remote community in rural Conejos County, making burial impossible.

It took years for the case to reach this stage, due to numerous delays, postponements, and continuances, largely because Baroz entered a plea of Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. Presumably, two separate evaluations did not support the plea. Had Baroz not changed his plea to guilty, the case would still be slogging through court as families waited for resolution.

Finally, during Friday’s proceedings, members of victims’ families could address the court and describe the devastation caused by Baroz’s actions. Although all five victims had family members present, only a handful of people spoke.

There were expressions of deep gratitude to CBI (Colorado Bureau of Investigation), local law enforcement and the special prosecutors from the 20th Judicial District who were with the case from the beginning.

Arroyo was the first to address Baroz. His daughter, Korina, was murdered because she agreed to testify in Baroz’s friend’s trial. “This has been one of the worst things in my life.  This man didn’t just kill my daughter, he destroyed my family.”

Selena Esquibel’s mother, Rosaline, said, “I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. He didn’t just kill my daughter, he killed part of me.” Baroz murdered Selena, who was 19, because she told someone he had raped her.

Michael, brother to Myron Martinez, said, “We lost my father in October 2023, and I think he died with a broken heart because he wasn’t able to see this thing through. Last summer, we were driving past the Walsh Hotel and he said, ‘That’s where they killed my son.’ I wish he was here to say these words.”  Martinez then read from the Bible. “’Beloved, never avenge yourself but leave it to the wrath of God for it is written vengeance is mine and I will repay seven times.’  I ask the court to run their sentences consecutively, so they pay every second of every day for what they did to my brother, which was brutal and disgusting.”

Shayla Hammel, mother of two, was murdered for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. “Shayla was taken in a senseless act of violence, and it shattered the dreams of my niece and nephew,” her brother said. “You tortured her like an animal. We couldn’t even give her a burial. There is no forgiveness for what you did.”

But the most condemning words came from Judge Gonzales who admitted, himself, he had never spoken in such language from the bench.

Addressing Baroz directly, he said, “I’ve seen you from a young man to a young adult to an adult. You’ve had a rough life and I’m sorry about that, but you’ve destroyed the lives of five families.

“You took away their chance to grieve their loved ones. To say goodbye.  You took away hugs, goodbyes, hellos, ‘I love you’, ‘I’m sorry’. You took away the joy of watching children grow up.  You took all of that away for no reason. Because they agreed to testify. Said something you didn’t like. Said you owed them money. That’s why you took their lives.

"I’ve spent 27 years in this job and have endeavored to find the good in people because that made my job a little easier. It gave me some hope that there’s a reason to move on. I’ve always been able to find good in a person where I could say ‘thank you, I appreciate that’.

"The only positive I can find is that you pled guilty to save the victims from going through the process.

"I can find no good in you. What I see in you is evil. Pure evil. Whatever decency you might have had in your heart at one time no longer exists. In the space of two months, you killed five people. You ate their flesh. You took souvenirs from their bodies.

"It’s not easy to take away someone’s freedom for a long time. I hope that people leave prison and become a better citizen, but, in your case, I can’t bring myself to do that.  I hope every night for the rest of your life in prison you hear the screams of your victims begging you to stop.”

“This case had a devastating effect on our community,” said 12th District Attorney Anne Kelly in a statement.  “The evil and barbaric acts of Adre Baroz, Julius Baroz and Francisco Ramirez are unthinkable. Due to the incredible legal work of our District Attorney partners from the Twentieth Judicial District in Boulder who skillfully and effectively prosecuted this case for three years on behalf of the victims’ families and our community, a measure of justice has been served. While no sentence can fully repair the damage these men caused, my hope is that our community may now continue the path of healing. I am so grateful for the tireless work of local, state, and federal agencies who never stopped pursuing justice for the victims’ families. These three men deserve every day of the sentences Judge Gonzales handed down.”

“This case was a true example of evil,” said Ken Anderson, who was Alamosa’s Police Chief throughout the investigation. Anderson is now Division Commander with Alamosa County Sheriff’s Office. “In my 23 years in law enforcement, I’ve never seen a crime so heinous and gruesome. I want the families of the victims to understand that the tireless effort from all agencies who assisted in this investigation put a case together with enough factual evidence to be heard in court and to eventually obtain a conviction.

“I also want them to know we do not take their pain and suffering lightly. Through the suffering and pain, I pray those family members find peace and justice served.”

In addition to sentencing Adre Baroz to five consecutive life sentences plus another 140 years for assaults, kidnapping and tampering, Gonzales also handed down additional sentences to Baroz’s two co-defendants. Julius Baroz, 34-year-old brother to Adre, received 25 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree, and Francisco Ramirez will serve 24 years for tampering with human remains.