DENVER — On Friday, Denver District Attorney Beth McCann announced the sentencing of 18-year-old Jayque Owens for the homicides of 23-year-old Yaun Yae Long and 22-year-old Kalani Hayter in 2020.
“Charging a juvenile as an adult is something we take extremely seriously because the juvenile brain is still developing and young people can be very impulsive and susceptible to peer influence,” McCann said. “In this case, Jayque Owens deliberately planned these murders, and his actions rippled through Denver’s Montbello community, affecting its youth in particular. We simply cannot allow that in a civil society.”
Owens was 16 years old at the time of the murders. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 13 to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced on Monday.
According to the arrest affidavit, on July 5, 2020, Denver Police (DPD) officers responded to a shooting at Montbello Liquors, at 4690 Peoria St.
Witnesses at the scene told police that two suspects in black hoodies fired several shots into an occupied car in the parking lot, the affidavit says. Two people inside the car were shot. Long and the other victim were transported to the hospital, where. Long was pronounced deceased, according to police.
Two people were inside the car who were not injured, police said. One of them told officers she recognized one of the suspects as someone she knew by the name "JQ," the affidavit says.
The witness told police that JQ was driving the vehicle that was parked next to them just before the shooting.
A second witness told police she recognized one of the two suspects in black hoodies as a friend of hers on Facebook, the affidavit says.
On the morning of July 7, 2020, DPD officers responded to a welfare check at 2505 W. 8th Ave. for a person in a car, according to police.
When officers arrived, they found a woman, later identified as Hayter, dead inside the car. An autopsy performed by the coroner's office determined that Hayter was shot to death, according to the affidavit.
Through interviews with witnesses, police believed that Hayter was a passenger in the suspect vehicle from the July 5 shooting, according to the affidavit. She lived at the Albrook Apartments on Albrook Drive, which was the same apartment complex the two suspects were seen running to after the July 5 shooting, according to the affidavit.
DPD officers went to Hayter's apartment on a welfare check and discovered two deceased juveniles inside the apartment, police said. Both juveniles, 15-year-old Moses Harris and 14-year-old Xavier Collier, had been shot and killed, according to police.
On July 9, DPD detectives were conducting surveillance of a suspect in Civic Center and saw a person who was believed to be selling narcotics leave the park with two males, one believed to be Owens, police said.
The three got on an RTD bus to Colfax Avenue and Downing Street, where officers contacted them, according to the affidavit. Owens was found to be in possession of two loaded semi-automatic pistols, one of which was reported stolen earlier that day, police said. All three were arrested and transported to DPD headquarters, according to police.
After police conducted interviews, Owens and the second suspect were transported to Denver Police Juvenile Intake and to be placed in a juvenile facility.
Police obtained Facebook records of a message involving Owens shortly after the shooting, the affidavit says. A friend of Owens told police that the July 5 murder was a result of Long making insensitive remarks on Facebook about a 14-year-old who had recently taken their own life, the affidavit says.
On Oct. 20, police received an anonymous Crime Stoppers tip about the investigation into the liquor store shooting, the affidavit says. The tipster told police that they knew a juvenile at the Montview Youth Facility who told them that "JQ" killed "Getit," according to the affidavit."Getit" was a nickname associated with Long, police said.
On July 20, 2021, police spoke with a suspect who was formally housed at the Montview Youth Facility, the affidavit says. The suspect told police that while he was at the facility, Owens and the second suspect admitted to him that they had killed Long because they thought he was an OTG gang member, the affidavit says. According to the suspect, Owens told him that they later found out Long was not part of that gang.
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