Girlfriend turns in gas station robbery-murder suspect
KDVR / Arapahoe County
Samuel Birch

By Rob Low, KDVR

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (KDVR) -- KDVR-TV has learned 31-year-old Samuel Birch is the suspect charged in the homicide and robbery of a Centennial gas station clerk on Thanksgiving Day.

An affidavit obtained by KDVR states the suspect’s girlfriend turned Birch in on Dec. 11.

Mauricio Perez, 24, was working as a clerk at a Circle K gas station at 8623 S. Quebec St. on Thanksgiving Day when surveillance video shows a white male with a black mask covering his face entered the gas station at 6:44 p.m.

The suspect asked for 10 packs of Marlboro cigarettes. As Perez rang up the order, the suspect pointed his handgun at Perez. Perez is seen on store surveillance video complying with the suspect’s demands, putting the money and cigarettes into a plastic bag, and handing it to the suspect. The man then thanks him and shoots him in the stomach. Perez died nearly three hours later at Sky Ridge Medical Center with a .22-caliber bullet lodged in his spine.

On Dec. 11, deputies received a tip from a woman who said the shooter was her daughter’s boyfriend.

The girlfriend then told detectives she was home on Thanksgiving Day with COVID-19 and, according to the affidavit, she remembered Birch leaving the apartment the couple shared around 3 p.m. and not coming home until 8 p.m. She told detectives Birch had shown her cash and admitted to committing a robbery and firing the gun.

Birch is being held without bond on nine counts: first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree felony murder, two counts of robbery, tampering with physical evidence, two counts of possession of a weapon by a previous offender, carrying a concealed weapon and theft.