Colorado man sentenced to life in prison for 2019 Christmas Day poker-game killing

Haley Hintze
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Posted on February 28, 2022 4:57 pm EST

A Denver-area man has been sentenced to life in prison after being found shooting and killing a family friend during a poker game held in the early-morning hours of Christmas Day of 2019. Curtis Davis-Barnes, now 38, was convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of 39-year-old Aarion Derritt during a Christmas Eve gathering that turned tragic.

Davis-Barnes received the life sentence last week from Arapahoe District Court Judge Darren Vahle immediately after the jury returned its guilty verdict. Davis-Barnes faced multiple felony charges from the slaying, including the first-degree murder charge resulting in the life sentence, which is the mandatory sentence in Colorado for a first-degree murder conviction.

Davis-Barnes was also accused of aggravated robbery, felony menacing, and criminal possession of a financial device, referring to stolen identification documents, and he received separate sentences of 32 years, three years and one years on those charges. Since the first-degree murder charge does not automatically carry parole eligibility, Davis-Barns may die in prison for the poker-related murder.

Davis-Barnes lost hundreds to slaying victim

The 2019 Christmas Eve party at a house in Aurora, east of Denver, that resulted in Derritt’s killing, began as a normal festive occasion. At some point in the late-night hours, several of the party’s attendees moved to the basement to play poker and shoot dice. Over the next couple of hours, Davis-Barnes was the game’s big loser, while Derritt was up about $700.

At that point, at about 2 a.m., an angered Davis-Barnes went upstairs and returned with a handgun. He then shot Derritt several times in the torso and once in the head. Davis-Barnes then grabbed money from Derrick’s pockets and fled the scene, and was arrested days later. At the time, with an active search underway, local news outlets published features helping authorities to locate and arrest the presumed killer.

Derritt was pronounced dead at the scene, while the manhunt, including a description of Davis-Barnes’ vehicle, quickly began.

“By all accounts, Mr. Derritt did nothing to provoke the defendant. He did nothing to instigate a confrontation or incite any violence,” said Arapahoe County Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers. “He was playing a game, and he ended up shot dead when he should have been able to go home and celebrate Christmas.”