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Man convicted in Thanksgiving Day murder of gas station clerk

Samuel Birch faces life in prison for shooting and killing Mauricio Perez on Thanksgiving Day 2020.

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — A jury in Arapahoe County convicted a man of shooting and killing a convenience store clerk after robbing him on Thanksgiving Day 2020.

According to the arrest affidavit in the case, Mauricio Perez, 24, was working at the Circle K at 8263 S. Quebec St. in Centennial Thanksgiving Day. At around 6:45 p.m., Samuel Birch walked into the store and asked for a carton of cigarettes. 

The store's surveillance video showed Birch calmly pull out a long-barreled revolver and put the gun's barrel through the plexiglass divider, demanding everything in the cash register, according to a news release from the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.

>The video above is from Nov. 27, 2020: Victim of shooting, robbery at Centennial gas station dies

“Dude, it’s going to be you, your stomach, or the money,” Birch said to Perez during the robbery. “I can shoot you when I leave or I can shoot you right now.” 

Credit: Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office
Samuel Birch

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After Perez complied with Birch's demands, Birch said "thank you" and then shot Perez once in the stomach, prosecutors said. Perez was taken to a hospital, where he later died.

“This was an entirely senseless act of inhumanity,” District Attorney John Kellner said. “This defendant needlessly ended the life of an innocent man, who had done nothing but comply with his demands.”

On Dec. 11, 2020, Birch's girlfriend's mother called deputies to tell them Birch was the gunman, according to the arrest affidavit.

While on the same phone call, Birch's girlfriend told investigators she had seen pictures released by the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office of the suspect in the robbery and shooting, according to the affidavit.

The girlfriend told deputies she recognized the gray hoodie the suspect was wearing, the affidavit says. She also told investigators that Birch wore glasses and drove a Ford Fiesta, according to the affidavit.

Investigators said they had been looking for a Ford Fiesta in relation to another convenience store robbery that occurred on Thanksgiving Day just a couple of hours before the deadly shooting, the affidavit states.

The girlfriend told deputies that Birch showed her cash and admitted to her that he had committed a robbery, and that he admitted to her that he had fired a gun at the clerk, the affidavit says.

The girlfriend added that Birch told her he buried the gun and burned his shoes and shirt that he wore in the robbery, according to the affidavit.

Birch was found guilty of:

  • first-degree murder after deliberation
  • first-degree felony murder
  • two counts of aggravated robbery
  • tampering with physical evidence

Birch faces up to life in prison on the murder convictions and additional years for the other charges.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 22.

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