ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. – Scott Allen Ostrem, the man accused of shooting and killing three people at a Thornton Walmart last week, faces six counts of first-degree murder, 30 counts of attempted first-degree murder and a sentencing enhancer if he’s convicted for the shooting.
Ostrem, 47, learned his formal charges at a Monday afternoon hearing in Adams County.
Prosecutors charged him with two different counts of first-degree murder for each person he is accused of killing. Three of the counts are first-degree murder after deliberation, while the other three are first-degree murder with extreme indifference.
He also faces one count of attempted first-degree murder with extreme indifference for 30 other people who were in the store at the time.
The final count against Ostrem is a crime-of-violence sentence enhancer that would apply to the attempted murder charges, District Attorney Dave Young said in court on Monday.
Should he be convicted of any of those charges, the sentence enhancer would double any prison and parole time Ostrem faces for each count – from between 8 and 24 years in prison, to between 16 and 48 years in prison for each.
The first-degree murder charges are all class 1 felonies in Colorado, meaning Ostrem will face with life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty if he’s convicted on any of those counts.
Colorado hasn’t executed anyone since 1997, though three inmates remain on death row. Gov. John Hickenlooper has pledged to not execute anyone while he’s in office, but the state will elect a new governor next November.
Should Ostrem face and be convicted of a class 1 felony, like first-degree murder, a separate sentencing hearing would be held to determine if prosecutors would seek the death penalty or not – unless he’s deemed mentally incompetent to be executed.
Young told Denver7 Monday it was too early to determine if he'd seek the death penalty, but said he'd consult with the victims' families before making a decision. He also added that other charges are still on the table, but that further investigation was needed before any further charges are filed.
Ostrem wore a white-and-yellow striped Adams County Jail jumpsuit in court on Monday. His public defender had a request to redact the victim’s names from the criminal complaint granted by the judge. He said nothing other than replying “yes” to the judge when asked if he understood his charges and the proceedings.
The judge also set the preliminary hearing and bond hearing in the case for Feb. 5. A motion by Ostrem’s public defender to seal the jail visitation records was not immediately granted, however. The judge gave District Attorney Dave Young 21 days to respond to the motion.
Ostrem's sister called The Denver Post after allegedly receiving death threats about her brother, and told them he'd heard voices in his head for years after an LSD trip.
“My brother is not this monster. … He is not cold blooded. He hears these voices. Honestly, in my heart, I believe there is only so much a person can take,” Ostrem's sister, Michelle Willoughby, told The Post. “I never thought something like this would happen.”
Law enforcement officials told Denver7 last week they were looking into Ostrem's mental health history.
Police arrested Ostrem near 72nd Ave. and Federal Thursday morning more than 12 hours after the shooting occurred. An anonymous citizen tip alerted authorities to his presence in the area, police said, though FBI agents also spotted him in the area. Ostrem was arrested just a few blocks from his apartment.
The coroner for Adams and Broomfield counties on Thursday identified the three killed in the shooting as 52-year-old Pamela Marques of Denver, 66-year-old Carlos Moreno of Thornton, and 26-year-old Victor Vasquez of Denver.
Moreno's family members were again in court Monday, as some of them were Friday. One told Denver7 outside of court that Moreno had gone to the store with his teenage niece that night, and that the two had briefly split up to look for different things when the shooting happened.
Ostrem had a history of run-ins with the police—most recently a driving while ability impaired conviction in Wheat Ridge in 2014. Neighbors said he was “weird” and kept to himself. Another neighbor told Denver7 Ostrem came off as rude and unapproachable.
“He was on the edge, not friendly, wouldn’t talk to anybody,” said neighbor Teresa Muniz. “You didn’t dare talk to him, because he always looked mad.”
Ostrem walked off his roofing job Wednesday morning in Frederick, the company confirmed, but was otherwise a “good worker,” fellow employees said. He also had several failed businesses, and declared bankruptcy in September 2015.
The judge stipulated that Ostrem be held without bond pending the preliminary hearing. The affidavit in the case remained sealed pending redactions, which are expected to be made by the end of day Monday.