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Transient sentenced after trying to steal marijuana from homeless man, then killing him

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Posted at 9:27 AM, Nov 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-22 11:27:59-05

DENVER — The man convicted of fatally shooting a homeless man in November 2016 was sentenced to prison Monday.

Makhail Purpera, 31, was found guilty of first-degree murder and second-degree murder in August after a seven-day jury trial. He was formally charged in early December 2016.

He was sentenced to life in prison without the opportunity of parole.

Authorities said he was a transient in the Denver area.

The charges stemmed from an incident that occurred on, or around, Nov. 5, 2016. Purpera shot and killed 54-year-old Wayland Busby while trying to steal marijuana and other belongings from the man, who had been living in a tent near S. Platte River Drive and Dartmouth Avenue. Busby's body was found by a Denver Park Ranger during a routine check of the area.

At the time, Purpera was also wanted by authorities in Gonzales, Louisiana for two counts of attempted murder in connection to a shooting in August 2016.

After he had been charged for killing Busby, detectives accused him of previously murdering another man, Patrick Murphy, a 33-year-old man from Englewood, in February 2016. Murphy’s body was found in a pond behind a Safeway in Englewood the same day Purpera was caught stealing from a Walmart, though authorities couldn’t make the connection until months later.