Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Last of defendants in Sin City homicide in Colorado Springs get prison time

By Lance Benzel Published: August 29, 2013

Three men tied to the slaying of an unarmed man outside a Colorado Springs motorcycle gang clubhouse were sentenced to prison on Thursday.

John "Showtime" Burrell, 28, Eric "E-Rock" Bartholomew, 23, and Carlos Ford, 30, will serve penalties ranging from six to 13 years in prison in the March 3, 2012 shooting death of Virgil "Jason" Means, capping a series of six prosecutions in the case.

The man accused of firing the fatal bullet, ex-Fort Carson Sgt. Christopher "Stone Cold" Mountjoy, was sentenced in April to 21 years in prison, and two accomplices previously received jail sentences and probation.

During separate hearings Thursday before El Paso County District Judge William Bain, Means' family members tearfully described their anger and frustration over what they called the "senseless" murder of Means, who had been a guest at an after-hours party hosted by the Sin City Disciples Motorcycle Club, then located in the 600 block of West Vermijo Street.

After getting into a fight with a gang member, Means was tossed out and beaten by several men.

The shooting occurred less than an hour after the assault, when Means and a friend returned in a Cadillac in search of Means' missing wallet. Neither was armed.

While the Cadillac idled in the street, members of the motorcycle club closed in and staged what authorities described as a coordinated maneuver: While Ford and Bartholomew drove slow-moving cars as part of an assault team, a trio of shooters including Burrell opened fire - some 7 seconds after the Cadillac began driving away from them.

Means, an Air Force veteran and former employee of the Cheyenne Mountain Re-entry Center, was hit in the back and died before his friend reached the hospital.

"Who the hell do you think you are to hurt people the way you do?" asked Means' sister Elizabeth White, in searing comments directed to Burrell.

All three defendants eluded first-degree murder convictions, and the automatic life sentences that would have resulted - Burrell at trial, and Ford and Bartholomew in plea agreements in which they pleaded guilty to lesser charges.

Burrell, a Fort Carson sergeant and three-time Iraq War veteran, was sentenced to 13 years in prison. He already is serving a 12-year sentence for aggravated robbery in a separate crime. The penalties will be served back-to-back, Bain ruled.

Bartholomew, a Fort Carson soldier who served for 7 months in Afghanistan, was sentenced to six years in prison.

In a twist, Ford was sentenced not only in Means' death, but in the fatal shooting of Daniel Garcia, who was found April 23 slumped over in a sport-utility vehicle at Whispering Pines apartment complex, the victim of a point-blank shooting from the passenger seat.

In a bargain with prosecutors, Ford was sentenced 33 years - 10 years in Means' killing and 23 years in the death of Garcia.

Ford's past encounters with the law include an earlier first-degree murder charge that was tossed because a key witness disappeared.

The Sin City Disciples are a self-described "one-percenter" outlaw gang similar to the Hell's Angels or Colorado's Sons of Silence.

During testimony related to Means' killing, prosecutors characterized the gang's former clubhouse in a commercial stretch of West Vermijo Street as a pocket of chaos on the city's near west side. The group used vehicles to blockade the street during rowdy after-hours parties, and the clubhouse routinely drew police attention for shootings, robberies and other crimes.

Police say the group left the Vermijo Street location earlier this year. It's unclear whether it has relocated elsewhere in Colorado Springs.

Burrell's attorney, Michael Meyrich of Denver, said the local Sin City Disciples group had lost its national charter. The information couldn't be confirmed on Thursday.

Mounjoy's sentence is under appeal, with his attorneys arguing that Judge Bain exceeded his authority in sentencing him in the aggravated range.

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