A man was found guilty of killing his 2-year-old cousin by a Jefferson County jury on Wednesday, a news release said.

Roman Morales, 22, has been sentenced to life without parole. He was found guilty on all counts:

  • First-degree murder – after delibration
  • First-degree murder – child under 12 and in a position of trust
  • Child abuse that resulted in death.

RELATED: Man accused of killing cousin pleads not guilty

Morales was arrested Sept. 22 after Lakewood Police answered a call that said the boy, Donnie Romero, had been missing since shortly before noon on Sept. 21.

There were three other adults in the house when Morales killed Romero, the news release said. The child’s mother, Morales’ grandmother and Morales’ and Romero’s cousin, Andrew Olguin.

Morales strangled Romero in the kitchen and put his body in the bin. Olguin heard choking sounds and Morales said the child had choked on a gummy and that he’d give him a drink.

Neighbors previously told 9NEWS that about 20 minutes before Romero was found, his family was knocking on doors around the apartment complex in the 2500 block of South Sheridan Boulevard in Lakewood.

Morales forged evidence to shift attention away from himself, placing the boy’s sippy cup in a ground level room outside the apartment and gummy vitamins in the kitchen trash for police to find, the news release said.

“It is unthinkable that Mr. Morales could brutally and brazenly choke the life out of this precious child,” said Jefferson and Gilpin Counties District Attorney Peter Weir.