William Burchett made lifelong friends. He was a musician, history buff, world traveler and loving stepdad.
Locally famous as the lead singer of the Resonatorz, Burchett was murdered in his Golden home on March 15, 2014, at the age of …
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Locally famous as the lead singer of the Resonatorz, Burchett was murdered in his Golden home on March 15, 2014, at the age of 57.
“There were tears around the world,” said Michele Ater, Burchett’s life partner.
A courtroom in the Jefferson County courthouse filled with people on April 15 to witness the sentencing of Thomas Kevin LaPerch for Burchett’s murder.
Following a nine-day trial, on April 11, after only two hours of deliberation, a Jefferson County jury found LaPerch guilty of first-degree murder after deliberation, arson and criminal mischief — all felony charges.
LaPerch, 24, will spend the rest of his life in prison, with no possibility of parole, for the murder charge. In addition, Judge Philip McNulty sentenced him to 12 years each for the arson and criminal mischief charges, which will be served consecutively.
“There’s nothing mitigating about this case,” McNulty said. “This wasn’t just a murder, this was an ambush.”
He directly addressed LaPerch and told him the crime was of evil intentions and that LaPerch is a dangerous person. The punishment, the judge continued, is “not only mandated” but “necessary.”
On March 15, 2014, at about 10:30 a.m., the Golden fire and police departments responded to 711 Iowa St. in Golden after a 911 call reported a fire.
Frst responders discovered Burchett dead in an upper-level bedroom of the house. It appeared that he had been stabbed more than 20 times.
Investigation revealed that LaPerch had recently moved to Colorado and answered a Craigslist ad to sublet the basement level of the house where Burchett was living in the upper level. However, according to Burchett’s family, within days of LaPerch moving in, Burchett became uncomfortable with the arrangement and offered to give LaPerch his money back, plus a couple hundred dollars if he would move out. LaPerch refused, and Burchett told his brother that LaPerch seemed very angry and that he frightened him.
After conversation by phone with LaPerch’s brother in Maryland, Golden police elicited the help of the Denver Police Department and the RTD Transit Police on March 16, 2014. Law enforcement tracked down LaPerch at the 16th Street Mall, and he was detained at about 2:30 p.m.
LaPerch addressed the court at his sentencing hearing and said “only God can judge me,” and that he did not expect a fair trial.
He showed no remorse, Burchett’s friends and family said to each other on their way out of the courtroom after the sentencing hearing.
But friends and family do feel justice was served.
On April 15, Ater said, the chapter was closed on the crime that took Burchett’s life.
“Everyone must turn forward and start becoming us again and living life to the fullest. Because what would William do?” Ater said. “Just that — live and experience through a lens of joy. He would want us to ‘Viva la fiesta.’ ”
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