The trial for a man accused of plotting with a woman to kill her ex-boyfriend began with opening statements Tuesday.
Andrew “AJ” Ritchie, 36, is charged with first-degree murder after deliberation for reportedly conspiring with Devan Schreiner, 28, to kill Jason Schaefer, 33.
Following jury selection, attorneys made their opening statements in the case just before noon Tuesday.
“They planned, both of them, the murder of Jason Schaefer,” Deputy District Attorney Carlos Rueda said during his opening arguments Tuesday.
Schreiner was convicted in March of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for shooting Schaefer while he was delivering mail in southwest Longmont on Oct. 13, 2021.
Just two days before the shooting, Schaefer had filed a request to modify parenting time, and witnesses also said Schreiner appeared upset that Schaefer had recently started dating Schreiner’s 19-year-old sister.
Prosecutors said Ritchie, who was having an affair with Schreiner, helped Schreiner commit the murder by tracking Schaefer through Longmont.
A rideshare vehicle used by the Englewood prison where Ritchie worked as a guard was seen on camera several times following Schaefer’s postal van, and Ritchie’s cell phone data and GPS data from Schaefer’s postal scanner also appeared to be in the same vicinity for most of the morning, the affidavit states.
Cell phone records show Ritchie was on the phone with Schreiner throughout much of the morning and that he also made three phone calls to Schreiner following the shooting.
There was also an image on Ritchie’s phone, taken in Schreiner’s bathroom, of a person wearing a similar outfit to the suspect fleeing the scene.
Rueda said Schreiner stayed with Ritchie the night before the murder and that Ritchie took Schreiner to her workplace before going down to Longmont and tracking Schaefer.
Rueda also said Ritchie lied about his whereabouts when police questioned him after the incident.
“He is her eyes and ears as he follows Jason Schaefer on his mail route,” Rueda said. “Without him, she does not know where he is on his mail route.”
But Ritchie’s defense attorney, Jim Aber, said in his opening statements that none of the evidence prosecutors presented proved Ritchie was involved in the planning and execution of the murder.
“AJ Ritchie did not kill Jason Schaefer, and AJ Ritchie did not advise, encourage or abet Devan Schreiner,” Aber said. “The prosecution is going to put on a lot of evidence about Devan Schreiner killing Jason Schaefer; that evidence has nothing to do with AJ Ritchie.”
Aber said Ritchie was following Schaefer around “to try and prevent a tragedy” and make sure Schreiner didn’t do anything, and actually at one point warned Ritchie.
“Devin knew Jason’s route, she didn’t need AJ to tell her where Jason Schaefer was,” Aber said. “She didn’t need AJ, AJ didn’t know the route.”
Aber said Ritchie initially lied to police about being with Schreiner the night before the murder in a “misguided last-ditch attempt to save his marriage.”
“Devan Schreiner killed Jason Schaefer and is guilty of that murder,” Aber said. “AJ did not kill Jason, he’s not guilty of murder in the first degree.”
The trial is scheduled to conclude after about two weeks.