Christopher Moffat has petitioned the Jefferson County District Court to accept a deal in which he has agreed to plead guilty to the charge of second-degree murder in the June 2019 death of Kremmling native Veronica Sarinana.
Moffat and Sarinana had previously been in an intimate relationship that was reportedly characterized by incidences of domestic violence. Moffat was arrested on domestic violence charges for acts committed against Sarinana in both January and April of 2019. He was convicted of felony menacing in the second case, and a mandatory protection order was put in place by the state.
On June 19, 2019, police responded to an anonymous call and found the deceased Sarinana in a vehicle parked in front of the Arvada home of Moffat’s brother, Frank “Kelly” Moffat. Subsequent investigation determined the cause of death to be homicide by manual strangulation.
According to arrest documents, Saranina once told police that “Moffat had been physical [towards her] over 100 times,” and that his “most common assaultive technique” was to deprive her of air by covering her mouth and nose with his hand.
On July 29, a warrant was issued for Christopher Moffat’s arrest in relation to the incident. He was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with physical evidence.
A series of motions filed March 3 of this year reveal the results of negotiation between Moffat, represented by Public Defender Elizabeth Upton, and the 1st Judicial District Attorney in Jefferson County.
Upton filed a petition, indicating that Moffat “wishes to plead guilty” to a new charge of murder in the second-degree, a class 2 felony, and to the class 3 felony charge of tampering with a deceased human body.
Successive filings from Deputy District Attorney Alex Boguniewicz offered to drop the charges of first-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence, adding the charge of second-degree murder in exchange for the proffered guilty plea to the other two charges.
Moffat will appear in Jefferson County District Court for a sentencing hearing at 4 p.m. on April 27.
If the Court accepts the terms of the plea agreement, according to the filings, Moffat could be sentenced to between 16 and 48 years in the Department of Corrections and fined between $5,000 and $1 million on the charge of second-degree murder and sentenced to between 4 to 12 years in jail and fined an additional $5,000 to $750,000 on the charge of tampering with a deceased human body.
The District Attorney is expected to ask for a range of imprisonment of between 40 and 55 years.
To provide input to the Court prior to sentencing, letters may be addressed to the Jefferson County District Court, 100 Jefferson County Pkwy., Golden, CO, 80401. Reference case number D302019CR2732.
Intimate partner violence or domestic violence is defined by the State of Colorado as an act of violence upon a person who is currently or ever has been involved in an intimate relationship with the violent actor. It includes crimes against people and property when used as “a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge.”
The issue of intimate partner violence is multi-faceted and cyclic, often being difficult for those outside the relationship to understand. While leaving a relationship is usually put forth as the best solution, leaving safely is not always easy.
“In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence,” according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Battered Women’s Support Services of Canada cites statistics indicating that “77 percent of domestic violence-related homicides occur upon separation, and there is a 75 percent increase of violence upon separation for at least two years.”
More information about domestic violence, including signs of abuse, the dynamics of abuse, and available resources, are available at ncadv.org or by calling the confidential National Domestic Violence Hotline
at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
For local resources, including confidential safety planning and safe-housing for victims of domestic violence, contact Grand County Advocates/Advocates for a Violence-Free Community at gcadvocates.org or 970-725-3412 (24-hour hotline).