Sixty-six Years Prison for Death of 19-year-old Brian Kapko

News Release from District Attorney’s Office in Jefferson County, Colorado
February 15, 2008

A Fort Collins man was sentenced today to 66 years in prison for a series of crimes that culminated in the death of 19–year-old Brian Kapko in August, 2005. Matthew Wartena, 21, and codefendant Dennis White were driving a stolen car when they collided with two cars on eastbound I-270, near the I-76 ramp, killing Kapko.

Earlier in the evening Arvada police received a call from a citizen reporting a car prowl early in the morning. The citizen began following the two men, Wartena and White, while still on the phone with Arvada police. When Wartena and White realized they were being followed they stopped the car and Wartena got out of the car and fired shots at the citizen, striking and injuring him. Wartena and White continued on, eluding police until they collided with the two cars in Adams County. They took off on foot and broke into a nearby barn, but were arrested shortly afterwards.

Dennis White pled guilty to Second Degree Murder and Attempted Second Degree Murder in April 2006. He is currently serving 48 years in prison.

The case against Wartena first went to trial in October, 2007. The jury convicted him of Criminal Trespass of a Vehicle and Second Degree Burglary, but hung on the other counts. The District Attorney took the remaining counts to trial again in December and this time the jury found Wartena guilty of Attempted Murder, Vehicular Eluding causing Death, Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft, Burglary, Trespass of a Vehicle and four counts of Eluding with Injury. This jury also hung on the count of First Degree Murder, Extreme Indifference, of Brian Kapko.

Two days prior to this offense, Wartena was driving a stolen truck when he shot and killed 25-year-old Aaron Rivera in Adams County. He was arrested in that case after his arrest in Jeffco. An Adams County jury found Wartena guilty of Second Degree Murder in January, 2008. He will be sentenced in that case in March. On the night they killed Brian Kapko, Wartena and White were out stealing license plates to replace the plates on the stolen truck Wartena had used in the Adams County homicide.