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Friends, family mourn 21-year-old Boulder County murder victim

Taylor Smith-Maxwell was killed early Sunday during an attempted carjacking in Boulder County – the suspects have been charged with second-degree murder.

DENVER — True crime stories have long been a fascination for Katy Oja. But she said the latest crime story she learned about was more horrifying than fascinating, a gut punch from which she's still trying to recover.  

It was right around 12:30 Sunday morning. Near the intersection of Highway 287 and Yellowstone Road in Boulder County – 21-year-old Taylor Smith-Maxwell was riding in a car with her mother.  

They were stopped briefly, about to make a turn when, according to court documents, another car stopped nearby, the doors opened, a gunshot was fired and Taylor was hit.  

"When it's happening to you there is nothing fascinating about it, it's just wrong," Oja said.

According to court documents, Taylor's mother quickly drove off before the suspects could steal her car. The two suspects were arrested a short time later. Tragically, Taylor died at the hospital. 

"I can't wrap my mind around it," Oja said. "I just got to be really close to Taylor. She was like a sister."

Oja said she knew Taylor almost her entire life.  

"I've known her since she was two. I started babysitting her then," Oja said.

Oja described Taylor as a kind and warm-hearted person; a great daughter, sister and friend who was just coming into her own as a person when her life came to a violent end.   

"She just made everyone happy when they were around her," Oja said. "It's terrible to know she'll never have a career, never get married, never have babies. It's not right."

The suspects, 23-year-old Martin Cerda and 24-year-old Adriana Vargas have both been charged with second-degree murder and possession of a weapon by a previous offender. 

The Boulder County Sheriff's Department said Cerda and Vargas had both been using drugs and selling fentanyl the night of the murder. 

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