Denver Judge Frees Violent Criminal, Now Suspect Accused Of Murder

Written by Brian Maass
DENVER (CBS4)- A CBS4 Investigation has learned that a 19-year-old Denver man arrested this week for a murder in Sheridan had just recently been released from prison over the strenuous objection of Denver prosecutors.

“This is the worst possible result,” said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney’s Office.

Sheridan Police and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation arrested Christopher Rodney, an admitted gang member, jailing him on a murder charge. Rodney is one of three suspects jailed in connection with the murder of Jeffrey John Wallace, 47, who was found dead Monday morning in his Sheridan home. Police theorize Wallace was killed over a marijuana deal.

CBS4 has now learned that Denver Police arrested Rodney in 2009, charging him with a vicious, random beating and robbery. It was a crime that landed him a 6 year prison term but a Denver judge released him in just 4 months.

Rodney confessed to the Nov. 8, 2009, assault on a man who had just gotten off an RTD bus at a downtown bus stop.

“What I did was very stupid,” wrote Rodney. “I take full accountability for what I have done.”

A videotape obtained by CBS4 shows Rodney and a second suspect attacking their victim from behind at the Denver bus stop, pummeling him with fists and feet until the man lost consciousness. Rodney stole the man’s cell phone.

“To come up from behind, and knock him unconscious and continue — it was over the top,” said Kimbrough.

On June 1, 2010, court records show Rodney pleaded guilty to robbery and assault for the 2009 case. Citing the extreme violence and the random nature of the crime, Denver prosecutors asked the judge to sentence Rodney to 8 years in prison.

edward bronfin Denver Judge Frees Violent Criminal, Now Suspect Accused Of Murder

Edward Bronfin (credit: CBS)

Denver District Court Judge Edward Bronfin sentenced Rodney to 6 years in prison and agreed to allow him to return to court in 4 months for a sentence reconsideration hearing.

Rodney was back in Bronfin’s courtroom Oct. 15, 2010. He had been imprisoned for 4 months of a 6 year prison term. Bronfin decided Rodney had served enough time. The judge cut the inmate’s sentence from 6 years behind bars to 3 years probation and Rodney was freed.

A Denver prosecutor vehemently objected to the change in sentence arguing that Rodney should stay behind bars.

“I think we walk away saying it didn’t feel like that was the right call but it’s the judge’s call,” said Kimbrough. “The difference between a 6-year prison sentence and a 3-year probation sentence in a case that involved the random violence this case entailed, I think to say we were disappointed would be accurate, maybe an understatement.”

The next time the judge and prosecutors heard from Rodney was this week when he was arrested for the murder of Jeffrey John Wallace, 4 months after Judge Bronfin ordered Rodney be placed on intensive supervised probation and released from prison.

“I don’t know what the judge’s reasoning or thinking was behind the sentence reconsideration. And we’re horrified when we see previous defendants come back around under these kinds of circumstances. It’s a bad day,” said Kimbrough.

Judge Bronfin is refusing to explain his sentencing decision. After CBS4 left a phone message for Bronfin, he had a state judicial public information officer, Rob Mccallum, return the call.

“Judges can’t talk about cases,” said McCallum. “They can’t talk about pending or impending cases. Ethically he’s prohibited from doing it.”

The only current clue as to what may have swayed Bronfin to release the inmate is a five page letter Rodney wrote to the judge asking for a break.

“I would really like a second chance to live in the society like a regular person,” wrote Rodney. “I want to be a regular upstanding citizen in the society that takes care of real responsibilities.”

Rodney then went on to lay out a plan for how he would live, work and what he would do if Judge Bronfin released him.

“I am sincerely sorry for all the trouble and problems I caused. So in saying all that I would really appreciate a chance to do what’s necessary to change my life and be successful,” wrote Rodney.

Harvey Steinberg, a criminal defense attorney, told CBS4 Judge Bronfin is not known for going easy on offenders.

“On some cases I was involved in I was unhappy with what I believed to be the harshness of his sentences. He’s not a soft Judge at all. He errs on the side of lengthy sentences,” said Steinberg.

Contacted through the Arapahoe County Jail, Christopher Rodney declined to talk to CBS4.

Lynn Kimbrough, the District Attorney’s spokesperson, said the questions raised by the CBS4 Investigation merit a response.

“It would be fair for you to go ask those critical questions,” said Kimbrough.

Additional Resources

Click here to read Christopher Rodney’s letter to Judge Edward Bonfin.

More from Investigates
  • Bill Allen

    Way to go Hickenlooper another gang beating citenzens with no notification.

    • gene

      I guess putting behind bars would be racist because only whites are racist–right?????????????

  • Frank Galmish

    How could any sane person be so suckered in to let this thug con him and he is a judge appointed by Ritter and they both are idiots who now have a murder partially on their decisions but they won’t take any of the blame. I have little to none regarding respect for judges or our justice systems. Thank God for our good people at the News media. I hope this judge is kicked out!

  • Francis J. Galmish

    How could any sane person be so suckered in to let this thug con him and he is a judge appointed by Ritter and they both are idiots who now have a murder partially on their decisions but they won’t take any of the blame. I have little to none regarding respect for judges or our justice systems. Thank God for our good people at the News media. Come retention voting time hope citizens remember!

  • Michael Johnson

    this individual wrote to the judge asking for the chance to become a productive member of society. the letter was an insult to the justice system.
    that having been said, the judge did nothing wrong. this thug knew what
    to say to win his release. his actions will make it harder when another
    more worthy person is asking for an early release.

    • jltu

      Mr. Johnson, go look at the letter, I don’t even believe hat Rodney wrote it. That judge made a grievious error, he was lazy plain and simple.

  • S

    Way to go Bronfin. Hope you don’t sleep well, having a murder on your hands now. You were duped and should step down and go far, far away…..

  • jltu

    Denver, I’m sorry but you all are in some serious trouble. What in the world was that judge thinking? If he let Christopher Rodney out of jail six, cout them SIX years early because of that letter then he is either lazy or flat out dumb. Look at that letter, there is no way that Rodney wrote that letter, look at the signature and compair it to the letter itself. The letter is totally different then the signature, they don’t even slant the same. Judge Bronfin, you messed up, hope your thinking of ways to redeem yourself; cause it looks like your just hiding. Sorry Denver, your in my prayers, cause with men like Bronfin, you need it.

    If I am wrong, I am sorry, but the author of the letter and the signer of the letter look like two different people.

  • Myself

    This should be Brolin’s last term as judge.
    Bad decision on his part.
    I hope Brolin faces the victims famly.

  • Jane

    Brolin’s name needs to be Denver cuss word.
    Brolin’s name stinks in the eyes of the victim’s family.
    Brolin’s relatives and his own family need to ask Brolin, “Why did you let Rodney out?”
    Brolin, you failed the criminal justice system!

  • Rocky

    What a failure you are!

  • Maggie B

    This judge needs to be removed from office.
    Put someone competent in his place!

  • Nancy

    Remove that judge!
    What a travesty of justice!

  • Janice Johnson

    I wonder how hard this criminal was laughing while someone was writing the letter for him, or at least telling him what to write. Apparently the judge didn’t have a good night’s sleep when he read it. If he were able to pay attention to it he would have seen it for what it is. This leads me to believe the judge didn’t read the letter at all. No wonder we have problems in society. I guess the way to live off taxpayers is to be a convicted criminal. Don’t even get me started on this jerk actually qualifying for Section 8 . . . . . . . . . . . .

  • MARK


  • Frank

    He probably had good behavior in prison.. How do you have good behavior when you are locked up???? I hope the judge can live withself for letting him out!! Idiot

  • KAP

    Four months for pummeling a guy is not justice. I’d be ticked if I was the victim who got beat for a cell phone.

  • Oldsailor65

    I have never refered to a judge as “Your Honor” and I never will.

  • The Un Educated Public

    First of all this is common practice for most Judges, this one just came to the media because of a person dieing in a drug deal.
    This judge is not the only one. What was done is basically a bootcamp reconsideration. The offender was reconsidered because he did well in all the programs he was in, in DOC. Bootcamp was shut down so now many judges in many jurisdictions reconsider the sentence after a length of time.
    Also ask yourself what is Rodneys criminal record? Would another offender just gotten probation like many do. Don’t fault the Judge, fault the system for not having more strigent rules on mandatory prison times
    and fyi to all you idiots spouting off because your probably criminals and just hate the system…. Please check your spelling
    Also like to add, that the District Attorney should be called out, because they could have made the defendant plea to a manadatory prison charge, versus giving the defendant a charge that would be open.

  • lyric

    We really need God my heart goes out to chris for not having enough power to change. For his family thats dealing with looseing a son and for the victim and his family my prayer is God will have mercy and peace for u all.

  • Vasya

    BRONFIN, REMEMBER THAT NAME, BRONFIN come election time, you are GONE.

  • Jim

    Havining been in the pison system for a number of years, and knowing how hard it is to even get a judge to look at a reconsideration, something is terribly wrong with this. Most times a Judge wont even look at a case like this until the inmate has done half of his sentence!!!, Whats really goin on?

  • Quint Palmer

    1. Hickenlooper had nothing to with the criminal’s release.

    2. The last name of the judge is BRONFIN, not Brolin.

    3. Don’t any of you know how to spell?

  • Billigflug Vergleich

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