Third Defendant In 2016 Pine Ridge Murder


     The last of the men charged in a murder on the Pine Ridge Reservation 5 years ago has accepted a plea agreement and been sentenced to 15-years in federal prison.

      28-year old Estevan Baquera was originally charged with murder, but pled guilty to accessory to 1st-degree murder in the death of Vinny Brewer outside a gym in Pine Ridge on Oct 16, 2016.

      Francisco Villanueva and Adan Corona were convicted in September of 1st-degree premeditated murder, 1st-degree felony murder, felony use of a firearm, and 2 other felonies.

     Villanueva was sentenced earlier this month to consecutive life terms while Corona is scheduled for sentencing in February. A fourth man, Myles Tuttle, was sentenced in 2019 to 9 years as an accessory. 

     Baquera, Villanueva, and Corona had tracked down Brewer through social media, then drove for Denver to Pine Ridge to collect a drug debt. He was fatally shot when he tried to flee a kidnapping attempt.

      Baquera, who changed license plates on the car after the shooting, told the judge at sentencing that making the trip was “the worst decision” of his life, but he insisted he didn’t know of the plan to kill Brewer.

     Federal District Judge Jeffrey Viken told Baquera he believed a jury would found him guilty of felony 1st-degree murder resulting in a mandatory life term if Baquera hadn’t taken the plea deal. 

     Viken, as he’d done in sentencing Villanueva, called Brewer murder “brutal” as it happened in front of children and family outside the Boys and Girls Club in Pine Ridge as basketball games were going on inside.

      Assistant U-S Attorney Sarah Collins says Baquera was offered a deal largely because the government wasn’t sure it could get a conviction for felony murder since he didn’t pull the trigger