Denver Hotel Owner Sued for Woman’s Grisly Murder

DENVER (CN) — The manager of a notorious Denver hotel run as a “safe house” for criminals saw a wounded kidnap victim “wrapped in plastic, partially undressed” removed from the trunk of a car, but let her be taken to a room and murdered, her parents claim in court.

The late Abigail Cozad’s mother and father sued the Primrose Motel and its owner Mark Kang on Friday in Adams County Court for wrongful death, deceptive trade and negligence.

On the night she was murdered, June 1, 2015, Cozad was on a “double date” with Emiliano Urioste, Teresa Dean and another man, according to the lawsuit.

Urioste, 31, was convicted of first-degree murder after deliberation, first-degree felony murder, robbery assault, aggravated motor vehicle theft and reckless endangerment. He was sentenced to life in prison in June 2016.

Dean, 29, also was charged with first-degree murder and robbery. Courthouse News has not been able to determine the status of her case.

“The Primrose Motel is a flophouse, well known to law enforcement for criminal activities, including violent crimes such as assault, domestic violence, [and] sex crimes,” the Cozads say in the complaint. They say police had been called to the motel “hundreds if not thousands of times — to investigate crimes, including the death of occupants,” before Abigail Cozad was murdered there.

Dean used the Primrose “as a base for prostitution and other criminal activities,” the complaint continues. “In fact, prior to June 1, 2015, Ms. Dean was ‘blacklisted’ from the Primrose Motel because of excessive criminal activities.”

On the night of May 31-June 1, Urioste and Dean kidnapped Cozad and stole her car, Dean smashed her head into the dashboard while Urioste drove, injuring her face, then they “wrapped her in plastic while partially undressed, and put Ms. Cozad in the trunk of her own car, eventually driving her to the Primrose Motel, for all practical purposes, a safe house,” the complaint states.

At the motel, “Ms. Cozad was extracted from her trunk, wrapped in plastic, partially undressed, having obviously been the victim of head/face trauma in the assault and kidnapping, in plain sight of defendants, including its property manager and head of security, Darian Moore,” the Cozads say.

Kang, the owner and operator of the Primrose, also lives there, the Cozads say. They say Moore, who is not a defendant, refused to rent Dean a room because he knew she had been blacklisted for “selling drugs and prostituting on the property.”

Moore told Dean she needed permission from Kang, which she got, after showing Kang the vehicle registration, in Cozad’s name, and after Kang checked the license plate number, “all while Ms. Cozad was being held captive and against her will in her own trunk,” the complaint states. Kang then “rented Ms. Dean a room with Ms. Cozad’s identification and with Ms. Cozad’s vehicle registration.”

Moore then saw Dean leave the hotel room and take Cozad from the trunk, “still wrapped in plastic from her legs to halfway up to her stomach,” the complaint states. “(H)e also observed Ms. Cozad’s pants to be unbuttoned to such a degree that he could tell what type of underwear Ms. Cozad was wearing.”

In the motel room, Cozad was sexually assaulted, murdered, and her body was stuffed into a couch.

“Mr. Moore testified that when he asked Ms. Cozad if she was OK, that while Ms. Cozad allegedly responded ‘yes,’ that Mr. Moore did not believe her because Ms. Cozad looked scared,” the complaint states.

Moore “admits that he didn’t call the police because he has seen ‘a lot of strange things at the motel,’ itself a self-haven for criminal activities,” the complaint states. “Mr. Moore testified that the day was a little unusual, but claimed that it was ‘just another day at the Primrose.’”

Trial evidence included receipts charged on Cozad’s credit card after her death, for cleaning supplies, gloves and lighter fluid. Chief Deputy District Attorney David Blackett told the jury Urioste planned to set the sofa and motel room on fire but his plan was foiled when he returned to the motel and found police there, according to the complaint and a Westminster Window newspaper report on the trial.

Kang does not hire “security” at his motel to protect guests, the Cozads say, but to keep it secure “against outsiders in order to protect its own economic advantage renting rooms to individuals seeking refuge from law enforcement.”

The Cozads are represented by Scott McLeod with McLeod Brunger in Denver, who did not respond to a request for comment.

A representative of the 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said Dean was sentenced to 32 years in prison last year, after she was convicted of first-degree assault causing serious bodily injury, first-degree assault with a deadly weapon and second-degree kidnapping.

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