Teen pleads guilty to beating death of disabled man

BOULDER – A 19-year-old charged in the beating death of a developmentally disabled Boulder man pleaded guilty Friday.

Austin Holford was 18 at the time of the murder. He and friend Luke Pelham were both charged for the killing of Aaron Tuneberg, 30.

Holford took a guilty plea Friday. He pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, aggravated robbery and second-degree murder. His stipulated sentence will be between 48 and 70 years. His sentencing will be in May.

"What goes on in that courtroom is not about revenge," Tuneberg's mother Gale Boonstra said. "It's all about protecting other people from being in a situation and suffering this kind of pain and grief."

Boonstra said she was pleased the prosecution and the defense reached a plea agreement.

"The longer this process goes on, the longer we are kept in the moment of Aaron's death, and the violence, and the wondering about how much he suffered; how we would've felt betrayed by these two boys," she said. "What I want is to get this resolved in the most appropriate way and move on to honoring him as he was in life."

Pelham is still going through the court process.

According to the police report, Tuneberg may have known at least one of his attackers.

Court documents say Pelham reported the assault.

During the initial investigation, Holford told police he took an aluminum baseball bat and a golf club over to Tuneberg's residence in March 2014.

According to the police report, Holford told investigators he struck Tuneberg "three to four times with the aluminum bat."

Investigators said both Holford and Pelham went back to check on Tuneberg after the beating, determined he was breathing and left. With them, they took an iPod speaker, an Xbox computer gaming console and a white cruiser bike.

According to the police report, Holford told investigators, he assaulted Tuneberg because he "assaulted a woman," adding "he may have hurt him more than he deserved."

Judicial District Chief Trial Deputy Sean Finn and Deputy DA Christine Rinke are prosecuting both cases.

"There is no way to describe this offense without calling it senseless," Finn said. "'Why?' In a case like this just isn't that helpful. As charged in the case it looks that the why was motivated by anger and robbery."

(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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