A man has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for killing a man and hiding his cut-up body parts in two suitcases in Denver last year, the Denver District Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
The suspect, 29-year-old Benjamin Satterthwaite, faces 25 to 30 years in prison for the murder of 33-year-old Joshua Lockard, according to the district attorney’s office.
Though Satterthwaite was charged with first-degree murder, his plea deal lowered the charge to second degree, which applies to murders without premeditation. In Colorado, first-degree murder convictions require life sentences.
District Attorney Beth McCann said Lockard’s family supported her office’s decision to accept the second-degree murder guilty plea.
“This was a horrific murder; however, the cause of Mr. Lockard’s death was never determined which makes his guilty plea and potential sentence length an appropriate outcome,” McCann said.
Lockard’s body was discovered on Dec. 29 by city employees plowing a sidewalk along the Sanderson Gulch Trail. The employees said they found two suitcases and, when they opened one, saw a human foot, according to the arrest affidavit.
Responding officers found a severed human foot, leg, thigh and torso inside the suitcases, wrapped in trash bags and duct tape.
An autopsy revealed the dismemberment appeared to have happened after Lockard’s death, the affidavit said. Lockard’s official cause of death was never determined.
Police found Satterthwaite’s name on a baggage claim sticker on one of the suitcases from a flight eight days earlier, the affidavit said.
Fatal amounts of blood and Lockard’s bank card were also found in an apartment that Satterthwaite was staying in at the time of the murder.
Police believe Satterthwaite and Lockard knew each other before the murder.
Satterthwaite was arrested on Jan. 7. He has been held in the Denver Detention Center since his arrest.
Satterthwaite is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 12 at 1:30 p.m. He will serve his sentence in the Colorado Department of Corrections.