Man who drove through crowd at Golden bar pleads guilty to murder

The 30-year-old man who killed one man and injured six others when he drove a truck through a crowd outside a Jefferson County bar last year pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday, according to court records.

Ruben Marquez also pleaded guilty to assault with a deadly weapon and three counts of vehicular assault in a plea agreement in which the first-degree murder charge against him and several other charges were dismissed.

Marquez drove a truck through a crowd at Rock Rest Lodge in Golden around 1:40 a.m. on Oct. 9. One man, 26-year-old Adrian Ponce, was struck and killed. Another four people were seriously injured, and two suffered minor injuries, authorities said at the time.

A chaotic drunken brawl that might have been motivated by a gang dispute preceded the hit-and-run, authorities said. Marquez and his cousin, Ernesto Avila, were both charged in connection with the incident.

Avila pleaded guilty last week to driving under the influence, obstruction of a peace officer and false reporting, all misdemeanors. Investigators believe Avila, who was the registered owner of the truck, was a passenger during the fatal hit-and-run.

Second-degree murder carries a typical sentence of between eight and 24 years in prison. Marquez is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 15.

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