AFFIDAVIT: Inebriated vagrant repeatedly stabbed drunk man’s neck in Colfax killing

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Pictured: Matthew Nagel. Image provided courtesy of the Aurora Police Department.

AURORA | A 28-year-old man was reportedly high on drugs and threatened several people with a knife after authorities say he repeatedly stabbed a drunk man in the neck in Aurora last week, killing him, according to court documents.

The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office formally charged Matthew Nagel, 28, Tuesday with one count of first-degree murder in connection with the fatal stabbing of James Edward “D” Reed around 8 p.m. on April 17 in Original Aurora.

Witnesses told police they watched a man believed to be Nagel stab Reed about half a dozen times in the Elmira Street courtyard between 9801 E. Colfax Ave. and 9905 E. Colfax Ave., according to an arrest affidavit obtained by The Sentinel

Several people who watched the killing from a balcony in a nearby apartment complex told investigators they thought the man was punching Reed but later realized he was stabbing the man. 

Police believe Reed was extremely drunk at the time of the stabbing and was unable to fight back. One witness told police he believed Reed was “nodding out” prior to the attack. 

The same witness told police, “(Reed) did not do anything obvious to instigate this stabbing and (Reed) was very drunk,” according to the affidavit.

Witnesses also told police the man believed to be Nagel “paced back and forth and was ‘talking s–t’” immediately after the stabbing, according to the affidavit. He reportedly told bystanders, “get back or I’ll cut ya’ll.”

Multiple witnesses said the knife used to stab Reed was about 6 inches long. One person said it resembled a kitchen or steak knife.

Reed was “bleeding profusely from his neck area” when police arrived, according to the affidavit. He was pronounced dead at University of Colorado Hospital about 20 minutes later.

The man suspected of killing Reed fled the scene on foot through an alley and continued to walk north on Florence Street, police said.

Nagel, who was found holding a knife, was apprehended by police about five minutes later at a nearby fire station.

After initially agreeing to speak with police about 1 a.m. the next day, Nagel then “said that he acted in self-defense and had nothing more to say,” according to the affidavit.

He told detectives he didn’t have a cell phone or permanent address.

Because Nagel did not have a photo ID, police identified him though previous mugshot photos and fingerprints.

Several witnesses told police the man who stabbed Reed seemed high or on drugs.

Police said Nagel was “swaying more than is natural” when he was in custody and “used his arms more than is natural for a person who is not intoxicated.

“He also moved his arms in a jerky manner common with people who have a drug addiction,” police wrote.

Nagel has been arrested several times in multiple Front Range jurisdictions in recent years, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. He’s been convicted of misdemeanor assault, felony car theft, misdemeanor drug possession, felony trespassing and felony escape charges. He’s had a slew of other charges dismissed.

Nagel has served multiple stints in prison and jail, most recently in late 2017 and early 2018 for charges of car theft and assault stemming from an incident in Englewood.

Nagel is currently being held without bond at the Adams County Detention Facility, according to county records.