Transient who fatally stabbed drunk man in neck near Colfax sentenced to life in prison

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AURORA | A 28-year-old man will spend the rest of his life in prison for the fatal stabbing of James Edward “D” Reed in north Aurora earlier this spring, according to the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

An Adams County District Court judge on Friday sentenced Matthew Nagel to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of 59-year-old Reed in April. 

An Adams County jury convicted Nagel of first-degree murder, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison, last week, according to District Attorney Dave Young’s office.

Aurora police found Reed lying on the ground and “bleeding profusely from his neck area” in the Elmira Street courtyard between 9801 E. Colfax Ave. and 9905 E. Colfax Ave. shortly after 8 p.m. April 17, according to court documents. Reed was pronounced dead at University of Colorado Hospital about 20 minutes after first responders arrived. 

Witnesses standing on a balcony overlooking the courtyard told police they watched Nagel stab Reed about six times using a blade that resembled a steak or kitchen knife, according to an affidavit filed against Nagel. 

“Reed was extremely intoxicated at the time he was attacked and was unable to fight back,” according to a statement issued by Young’s office. 

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.

Both Nagel and Reed had prior “substance abuse issues,” according to Young’s statement.

Police found Nagel holding a knife several blocks from the Elmira Street courtyard about five minutes after the killing, according to the affidavit. 

Once in custody, police said Nagel “swayed more than was normal” and “used his arms more than is natural for a person who is not intoxicated,” according to the affidavit. 

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 was incarcerated at the Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility earlier this summer for an unrelated case in Arapahoe County. He was re-booked into the Adams County jail in September to face the Aurora murder charge, according to county records.