Trial begins for Aurora auto mechanic accused of shooting 2 teens, killing 1, in north Aurora alley in 2017

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AURORA | A man accused of shooting two Aurora teenagers, killing one of them, following a dispute in an alley two years ago is slated to go to trial in Arapahoe County District Court this week.

Pictured: Margarito Najera. Photo courtesy Aurora police.

Margarito Najera, 45, is accused of murdering 18-year-old Manuel Estevan Hernandez-Serrano around 8:45 a.m. on April 28, 2017 in a north Aurora alley.

Najera is also accused of attempting to murder Hernandez-Serrano’s cousin, who was also in the car during the shooting. The unidentified man, who is now 20 years old, survived the incident despite being shot in the knee, arm and stomach, according to an arrest affidavit filed against Najera.

The surviving man, who was the front-seat passenger in Hernandez-Serrano’s car, later told police he and his cousin confronted Najera after he made “a hand gesture” at them as they drove on East 14th Avenue near Clinton Street.

Najera reportedly accused Hernandez-Serrano and his cousin of speeding through the area and “burning out the tires in the alley,” according to the arrest document. 

He instructed the cousins to pull their 2013 Subaru into the alley between Clinton Street and Dallas Street to “show them the tire marks.”

After Hernandez-Serrano pulled into the alley, Najera ran up to the right side of the car and began shooting into the vehicle using a semi-automatic handgun, witnesses told police.

The first Aurora police officer to arrive at the scene, Timothy Merrill, found Hernandez-Serrano slumped over with what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the head, according to the affidavit. 

Hernandez-Serrano was pronounced dead at University Hospital about 20 minutes later. He had been shot in the head and right arm.

Upon arriving to the scene, the surviving car passenger who was shot pointed at Najera and told Merrill, “That’s the guy who shot us for no reason,” according to the affidavit. 

When Merrill asked Najera if he had shot at the teens, he said “yeah,” according to the arrest document. 

Merrill then asked Najera to place his gun on the ground, which he did, and arrested him.

Another witness told police he worked with Najera at a nearby auto shop and heard gunshots but didn’t see the shooting. He said after the gunshots Najera told him, “You got to help me, those guys are trying to kill me. I just shot one of them.”

Police said in the affidavit neither teen was armed.

After his arrest, Najera refused to speak to detectives without a lawyer.

Najera is currently being held without bond at the Arapahoe County jail.

His trial was scheduled to begin this morning, according to court records. 

On top of the first-degree murder and attempted murder charges, Najera is facing a third felony charge for assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors have also tacked on a pair of sentence enhancers that would only come into effect if Najera were to be convicted.

A native of Mexico, Najera has been arrested once in Colorado prior to the April 2017 shooting, according to Colorado Bureau of Investigation records. In March 2000, he was arrested in Denver on charges of assault, trespassing and disturbing the peace.

Opening arguments in the case could be made later today or tomorrow morning.