Hit-run details emerge

By Hector Gutierrez
Rocky Mountain News
August 30, 2005

Two teens suspected of a Sunday rampage that included a high-speed chase and the hit-and-run death of a California man were captured after shedding their clothes, according to court papers.

During the chase, a passenger jumped out of a stolen Honda and fired shotgun blasts at a motorist who had pursued the pair, according to the documents. The victim suffered minor wounds as he ducked for cover inside his car.

“I thought he shouldn’t have done it because he put his life in jeopardy, but if you are going to be a good Samaritan, you want to take some action,” said George Meneghini, the witness’ father-in-law.

Killed in the hit-and-run was Brian Kapko, 19, of Costa Mesa, Calif.

“He lived the fullest life any 19-year-old could live,” his brother, Matt, said. “We have taken so many trips together as a family and seen so much.”

In Jefferson County District Court on Monday, Matthew G. Wartena, 19, was advised that he was being held on suspicion of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, vehicular eluding, and criminal trespass.

A 16-year-old from Westminster was advised of the same offenses in juvenile detention. He was not identified because of his age.

Wartena had several arrests as a juvenile in Arvada, according to court papers. Wartena describes himself in the documents as a daily user of methamphetamines.
At the time of Sunday’s incident, Wartena was out on bond out of Denver. He pleaded guilty last month to forgery of a government document, court records show.

Sunday’s events began about 1 a.m. when the witness called police to report two people were trying to steal a car in the 9200 block of West 75th Circle.

The two jumped in the Honda and fled. The witness climbed into his car and followed them, police wrote in their affidavit.

Near West 68th Avenue and Otis Street one suspect got out of the Honda and fired shotgun rounds at the pursuing motorist, police said, striking the car and wounding the driver.

Officers then chased the Honda, which hit speeds of 120 mph, according to the affidavit. The chase continued east on Interstate 76 in unincorporated Adams County, where the pair tried to head east on Interstate 270, police said.

Instead, the Honda struck a Toyota 4Runner and a Ford pickup. The 4Runner crossed the median and rolled into the westbound lanes. Kapko, a passenger in the 4Runner, was killed.

Two other unidentified passengers suffered minor injuries, Kapko’s brother said. No one in the pickup was hurt.

After the crash, police said the two suspects discarded some of their clothes as they fled. Police and sheriff’s deputies searched for more than eight hours before calling off the manhunt.

However, a witness called the sheriff’s office about “suspicious persons” near Washington Street and East 66th Avenue, police wrote. Deputies found Wartena and the teen.

Wartena was wearing only boxer shorts, socks and a bloody tank top. Deputies said Wartena suffered minor injuries. The juvenile was wearing only one sock and tan pants.