Denver teen charged with murder as adult sentenced to 58 years in prison after pleading guilty to two killings

A Denver man who was 16 when prosecutors filed charges against him as an adult for two homicides has been sentenced to 58 years in prison, authorities announced Friday.

Now 18, Jayque Owens received the sentence on Monday in Denver District Court after pleading guilty on Feb. 13 to two counts of second-degree murder in the July 2020 shooting deaths of Yaun Yae Long, 21, and Kalani Hayter, 20. Long was shot in a liquor store parking lot in Montbello and Hayter was found shot in a Chevrolet Avalance parked in that neighborhood.

Denver prosecutors made the decision to charge him as an adult. According to an affidavit filed in the case, Owens was involved in street gang activity and was arrested for possession of heroin and meth.

“Charging a juvenile as an adult is something we take extremely seriously because the juvenile brain is still developing and young people can be very impulsive and susceptible to peer influence,” Denver District Attorney Beth McCann said in a news release announcing the sentencing.

Owens “deliberately planned these murders and his actions rippled through Denver’s Montbello community, affecting its youth in particular,” McCann said. “We simply cannot allow that in a civil society.”

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