COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) - On Oct. 4, Joshua Johnson was found guilty of the first-degree murder of Riley Whitelaw. She was killed on June 11th, 2022. The events leading up to Wednesday's result were pivotal and brutal, sparking national attention and putting a new law into effect.
Riley Whitelaw Found dead in a Walgreens breakroom - June 11, 2022
On June 11, the Colorado Springs Police Department responded to a call in a Walgreens on Centennial Blvd. They found a dead body in the breakroom and began to investigate.
A day later, 28-year-old suspect Joshua Johnson was arrested in connection to Riley Whitelaw's murder. Colorado State Patrol arrested him on I-25 near Walsenburg. At the time, no additional details surrounding the case were released.
New documents revealed to KRDO that the victim was 17-year-old Riley Whitelaw. She had been working with Joshua Johnson, who was seen on security footage stacking bins in front of the security camera until they obstructed the view of the breakroom, among other evidence.
Whitelaw was found with multiple wounds to her neck and blood stains on the floor and on her clothes.
Police said that Whitelaw had previously complained about working with Johnson because he had made her feel uncomfortable. When she got more hours at work, they began to work on the same shift again. She had claimed that she was okay with the new schedule.
Public records released reveal brutal details - Aug. 2022
An Autopsy report showed that Whitelaw had 42 sharp force wounds and that there were similar wounds to her hands, consistent with "defense wounds." They also attributed the cause of death to "asphyxial wounding," which would show that a lack of oxygen supply contributed to her death.
The coroner's report determined that the manner of death was homicide.
Per request from the defense, the trial was pushed back for two competency evaluations for Johnson, both of which found him competent to go to trial.
In response to her untimely death, a new art scholarship was created for students who want to study art. So far two scholarships have been awarded to the class of 2023, as well as four separate art grants.
"Riley's Law" signed into effect by Gov. Polis - May 23, 2023
After extensive media attention that released the name of 17-year-old Riley Whitelaw, Governor Polis signed a new law into effect that protected minor's information, balancing the public's right to know with the family's right to privacy. The law went into effect on Aug. 7.
Trial begins for Joshua Johnson - Sept. 27, 2023
The prosecution argued that Johnson killed Whitelaw because of an unrequited crush, showing a multi-tool they believed was used to kill her, found with Whitelaw's and Johnson's DNA.
The defense argued that Joshua Johson was innocent and was merely at the wrong place at the wrong time. They also said that he actually responded to a call for help and fled the scene because he was scared and ashamed he had left his co-worker there.
Joshua Johnson found guilty of 1st-degree murder - Oct. 4, 2023
On Oct. 4, 2023, Joshua Johnson was found guilty of murder in the first degree. He was sentenced to life in prison. The defense is expected to appeal the ruling. In a press conference held after the sentencing, District Attorney Michael Allen explained the importance of the ruling.
"Evil absolutely exists in this world, and it preys on the light of innocence and goodness that exists in people like Riley Whitelaw. Thankfully, there are men and women who have dedicated their lives to find truth. People like Detective Steve Alonzo and Detective Mike Lee and every member of CCPD that worked on this case from the moment it happened until today when justice was finally served," Allen said.