GOLDEN, Colo. (Jul. 21, 2023) – Ricardo Perez, Jay Griffith, and Savannah Wilson have been sentenced for their roles in the murder of eighty-one-year-old Gail Wilson of Lakewood in 2021.
In May of 2021, just after the death of Wilson’s wife, Wilson’s adopted daughter Savannah, her boyfriend, Ricardo Perez, and their friend Jay Griffith moved into Wilson’s home in Lakewood. As early as June, there was mounting tension between Wilson and Perez due to disagreements over rent, bills, chores, and Perez’s frequent use of Wilson’s pickup truck.
During the trial, jurors heard testimony that on Oct. 31, 2021, after an argument broke out earlier in the morning over misplaced items in the home, Perez attacked Wilson by punching him in the face and slamming his head against a dresser until Wilson was unable to move. Jurors then heard that Perez beat Wilson to death with a baseball bat.
Both Savannah and Griffith testified that Perez ordered them to help clean up and dispose of Wilson’s body, which they did.
Testimony revealed that the three wrapped Wilson’s body in black roofing plastic and loaded his body, a large area of carpet, the bat, and items used to clean the scene into the back of Wilson’s red Ford F-150 pickup truck. Perez and Griffith then drove to the Cheeseman Park area of Denver, where they disposed of the items in various garbage cans and dumpsters.
Savannah and Griffith confessed their roles in the murder to Lakewood Police Detectives approximately ten days later. Lakewood Police engaged in a coordinated and extensive search for Wilson’s body over several weeks and hundreds of hours, but sadly, Wilson’s body was never found.
Blood spatter and DNA evidence at the scene confirmed that Wilson had suffered a blood-letting event in the home. Other evidence, including Perez’s fingerprints on items used for disposal of the body, fiber analysis, phone tracking, and civilian and police security and traffic cameras, led to Perez’s arrest and, ultimately, his conviction for the murder of Wilson.
Last week, a jury convicted Perez of first degree murder and other charges, and on Jul. 14, 2023, he was sentenced by the First Judicial District Court to life in prison plus 12 years.
Ct 1-Murder 1-Life w/o the possibility of parole
Ct 2-Tampering w/a Deceased Human Body-12 years consecutive to Ct 1
Ct 3-Attempt to Influence-5 years Concurrent to Ct 1
Ct 4-Tampering w/Physical Evidence-18 months Concurrent to Ct 1
Last year, both Savannah and Griffith pled guilty to Accessory to a Crime (F4) and Concealing Death (M1) in exchange for their cooperation and truthful testimony in Perez’s trial.
Yesterday, during Griffith’s sentencing, members of Wilson’s family spoke to the court and offered forgiveness and support. However, regarding Savannah, Wilson’s family did not share the same sentiment, with one member referring to her as a “monster.”
In both hearings, the First Judicial District Court noted that while there’s no legal requirement to intervene in a crime, both defendants will have to live with what they did and didn’t do in this case.
Griffith, who has spent 611 days in custody, received five years of probation with standard terms and conditions in addition to substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment, and mental health evaluation and any recommended treatment.
Savannah, who spent 445 days in custody, received seven years of probation with standard conditions, substance abuse and mental health evaluations, and any recommended treatment. The court imposed an additional 45-day jail sentence to give Savannah, who currently lacks a support network, an opportunity to make plans for her living arrangements once she is released.