Accomplice in stabbing found guilty


Nicholas Zapata was found guilty on Aug. 2 of attempted second-degree murder in the case of the Littleton Neighborhood Food and Gas stabbing last June. He is set for sentencing Oct. 8, and could receive 10 to 32 years in prison.

Jose Murillo, who wielded the knife in the incident, pleaded guilty on July 9 to conspiracy to commit second-degree murder and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Murillo sustained serious head injuries last June 10, when the gas-station attendant fought back.

“They picked the wrong victim,” said District Attorney George Brauchler in a statement. “Despite being stabbed in the chest, the victim defended himself with a hammer by bashing the head of Murillo while his gutless accomplice — the mastermind of the attack, Zapata ¬¬— ran away. Justice for the victim was served in part in his family’s business and in part in court, as the cowardly Zapata will face more than a decade in the prison.”

Surveillance video showed Murillo and Zapata bursting into the gas station at 1009 W. Littleton Blvd. at closing time. Littleton Police Detective Russell Hoffman testified that Murillo immediately went behind the counter, where clerk Eric Barzideh, the store owner’s son, was stooped over counting lottery tickets.

Murillo began stabbing the clerk with what Hoffman described as a paring knife. Barzideh reacted quickly, said Hoffman, grabbing a claw hammer off the counter and fighting back.

Murillo hit the floor shouting “stop,” said Hoffman, and Zapata ran out the door. Barzideh immediately called 911. He and Murillo were both taken to local hospitals.

The clerk underwent open-heart surgery and recovered quickly, according to his father, Bijan Barzideh.

Zapata was arrested without incident three days later at the Littleton Light Rail Station.

“Despite the challenges presented in this case, the victim’s bravery sealed the conviction,” said Deputy District Attorney Todd Bluth in a statement. “His quick thinking and courage kept him alive during his ordeal.”


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