Austin Holford, suspect in Boulder baseball bat beating death, assaulted in jail, deputies say

BOULDER, Colo. - Authorities said one of two teenagers accused of beating a Boulder man to death over an Xbox gaming system, was assaulted by his cellmate at the Boulder County Jail last week.

The Boulder County Sheriff's Office said Austin Holford, 18, was attacked by cellmate, Scott Benson, 46, who wanted to "show him what it feels like to be beaten to death"

Deputies said Benson asked Holford if he was the "baseball bat kid," and when Holford said that he was, Benson smashed his head into a wall and a toilet and punched him.

Holford told an investigator that "Benson was going to try to kill him, bounce his head off the toilet to show him what if feels like to be beaten to death with something hard," according to an arrest report.

Holford said he tried to talk the older man out of attacking him, but Benson rushed the teen and started smashing his head against the wall.

The teen fell to the ground, and Benson began punching him and slamming his head against the toilet, the report said.

Holford lost consciousness. The teen said when he came to, Benson was strangling him from behind, the report said.

Holford said he couldn't breathe and "was getting weaker and weaker. He thought he was going to die," the report said.

The teen yelled for jail deputies, who arrived to see Benson strangling Holford and intervened, the report said.

The Boulder Daily Camera reported that Holford was taken to the Boulder Community Hospital suffering from abrasions to his face, bruises on his ear, a bite on his wrist and a sore knee, hip and head.

Benson was arrested on suspicion of second-degree assault and felony menacing in connection with the alleged assault on Holford, according to the report. He remains in custody on $20,000 bond.

Authorities said Benson was in jail on a previous arrest for possession of a controlled substance and driving under the influence

Holford and Luke Pelham, both 18, have been charged with first-degree murder and second-degree murder with a deadly weapon in the beating death of Aaron Tuneberg.

Pelham is being held on $100,000 bail, while Holford, who also is accused of failing to appear in a misdemeanor case, is being held on $500,000 bail.

Police say Tuneberg suffered serious head injuries when he was beaten with an aluminum baseball bat and a golf club during the theft of the video game console on March 31.

Holford allegedly told police he wanted to sell the video game console so he could leave Boulder, arrest records show. Meanwhile, Pelham says he stood guard with a golf club at the bottom of the stairs and overheard the attack.

Pelham's lawyer said in court that his client has the mental capacity of a child and was tricked into helping.

They are scheduled to appear in court again on June 19.


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