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Police chief says people awaiting trials for other crimes fueling Denver's increase in homicides

According to the Denver Police Department, 40% of accused murderers since 2020 were under some sort of supervision.

DENVER — Alex Cabriales and his family have been vacationing in Italy the past few days. He said it's been a great trip so far, but something is missing. Actually, someone. 

"I'm getting choked up just bringing it up," Cabriales said.

Cabriales' sister, Pam, his family's regular travel partner, was shot to death in February of last year while her car was stopped on Colfax near Interstate 25.

"It's just something you carry with you and you learn to deal with it," Alex Cabriales said.

According to a law enforcement source, prior to Pam Cabriales' murder, the 14-year-old accused of pulling the trigger had been released from juvenile custody three separate times for charges related to aggravated robberies.

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"He was on an ankle bracelet and he cut off his ankle bracelet," Cabriales said.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said pre-trial supervision, or the lack of it, has helped fuel the sizable increase in homicides the past few years.  According to Pazen, 25 of the 71 murder suspects in 2020 were on parole or probation or under pre-trial supervision at the time of the alleged murders. Last year, 32 of the 72 murder suspects were under some type of supervision and, so far this year, nearly half, 5 of 11 murder suspects were under supervision at the time of the alleged murders.

"That's a big number," Pazen said. "There is a breakdown in accountability and consequences, there is a breakdown in supervision." 

RELATED: Man accused in homicide day after release from custody, court records show

Pazen stopped short of blaming anyone for the gaps in supervision, though he did raise several pointed questions.

"Does pre-trial have enough tools to ensure that individuals who are out on supervision aren't out creating harm in our community? Do they need more resources, do they need probation or parole officers?" Pazen asked, adding that the entire criminal justice system needs to come together to find immediate solutions.

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"We need to do something and we need to do something quickly," Pazen said. 

Alex Cabriales agrees.

"What they're doing now is not working, it's making things worse," Cabriales said.

In a written statement, Armando Saldate, Denver's director of public safety, said: 

"We must continue to work collaboratively to ensure that criminal justice decisions and processes enhance public safety, and remain fair and equitable.  A potential solution for this involves the review of the Colorado constitution, which currently limits a Judge’s ability to detain individuals awaiting trial."

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