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Posted on: August 3, 2021

Man sentenced to life without parole for second murder in 32 years

GOLDEN, Colo. – Convicted of murder for the second time in his life, William Robert Taft (DOB: 5/24/1971) was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. In 1990, he was sentenced to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty to Murder in the Second Degree in Denver.

Taft was found guilty by a jury on July 1, for the murder of 40-year-old Michael Dean Bryan. The defendant refused to appear for Friday’s sentencing hearing where the victim’s family was waiting to address him, but that didn’t keep them from sharing memories of their lost loved one.

“Michael was an amazing person and is missed and loved by many,” said his wife, Leah Bryan, in a statement through Colorado’s First Judicial District Attorney’s Office (Gilpin, Jefferson). “Our hearts are broken without him. But he will always live on within us and through his son.”

Taft’s guilty charges included Murder in the First Degree, Attempt to Commit Murder in the First Degree, Possession of a Prohibited Large Capacity Magazine, Tampering with Physical Evidence and Possession of a Defaced Firearm.

After serving 17 years in prison for the 1989 murder, Taft was released on parole in 2007. He was sentenced to another two years in prison in 2013 after pleading guilty in Arapahoe County to Possession of an Explosive/Incendiary Device.

“The defendant’s violent history has now resulted in two murders,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Alexandra Brady of the First Judicial DA’s Office. “Our community is a safer and healthier place now that he is guaranteed to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

On the evening of Oct. 24, 2020, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting a gunshot wound to a man’s face. When law enforcement arrived at the residence, Bryan was found on the ground and was later pronounced deceased at the hospital.

Security camera footage of the property showed Bryan and the surviving victim rolling on the ground in a scuffle when Taft stood over them and fired one gunshot downward. The investigation revealed that Taft intended to shoot the surviving victim but killed Bryan.

After taking Taft into custody, deputies searched the building where he was located and found the murder weapon in the back of a Jeep. When confronted with the evidence, Taft admitted to being present but denied having a gun and requested an attorney.

About Colorado First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King
Taking office in January 2021, elected District Attorney Alexis King leads the Colorado First Judicial District Attorney’s Office which serves Gilpin and Jefferson counties. Consisting of over 180 prosecutors, victim-witness coordinators, investigators and support staff, the office is committed to creating safer and healthier communities for all through community partnership, alternatives to prosecution, transparency and equity.

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