Peyton Blitstein, 17 was killed when he exchanged gunfire with Adam Holen in 2021. Holen, a former Greenwood Village officer, is currently on trial.
ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo — Attorneys in the case against a former Greenwood Village police officer laid out their cases in opening statements more than two years after the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Peyton Blitstein in Aurora.
Peyton was shot at least four times during an exchange of gunfire with Adam Holen on the night of Nov. 24, 2021, outside a home in the 4900 block of South Addison Way in southeast Aurora. Blitstein died. Holen was shot in the hip and was treated and released from the hospital the next morning, according to court documents.
Police said Peyton fired a gun first, and Holen returned fire. Despite that, investigators said in an arrest affidavit, that Holen was the primary aggressor because he initiated contact with Peyton and his friends and chose not to drive away when things became more heated.
Aurora Police said an argument between Holen, Peyton and the teen’s friends began over careless driving in the neighborhood. A big piece of evidence in the case is video from a Ring doorbell camera. The verbal argument and shooting happened in front of the house that had the camera.
In an opening statement, defense attorneys for Holen argued their client thought he was about to be killed. The defense told the jury it wasn’t the first time Holen had seen this red car speeding in the neighborhood. That night, Petyon and his friends were in that red car.
“He wasn’t furious or trying to catch up to the car,” the defense said.
Holen lived down the street from the home where the teens parked.
Holen’s defense team said their client slowed down his truck and stopped next to the red car because he “wanted to say something” and “address this ongoing speeding.” Holen has three sons who play on the street and felt it was an opportunity to say something about the safety issues, according to his attorneys.
“He didn’t threaten them,” Holen’s defense counsel said in opening statements. “He did not show them a gun.”
According to the arrest affidavit, a teen reported that Holen had his gun out while sitting in his truck and had pointed it at one of the teens.
Holen’s defense team argued that while the teens yelled at him and shared “violent words” Holen got out of his truck to come around and walk to the front door to engage with a parent. He wanted to “explain” himself and “resolve this”, the defense said.
The gun was “not drawn when he gets out of the truck,” the defense said.
Holen’s defense attorneys argued their client’s life was in danger and he reached for a gun because he saw a gun.
Holen was shot once. Peyton was shot four times.
The prosecution shared a different story with the jury. They claimed Holen antagonized the young people when he stopped the car. They directly disputed statements by Holen’s attorneys and told jurors that Holen did point a gun at one of the teens before he got out of the car.
“He gets out of the car, gun in hand, and advances on the remaining kids,” prosecutors said during their opening statement.
Prosecutors conceded that it was “wrong” and “stupid” for a 17 year old to have a gun but said Holen was the adult who “advances to Peyton” after he had shown a gun to one of Peyton’s friends.
Body camera video shared during court on Wednesday showed Holen talking to officers responding to the scene. An Aurora Police sergeant said Holen did not voluntarily tell them that he was getting out of the car to speak with an adult.
Holen is charged with second-degree murder, felony menacing, and prohibited use of a weapon while intoxicated. His trial is scheduled to go through Feb. 15.
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