Keyonyu X O’Connell

(303) 893-8000

(303) 893-8055


Keyonyu’s practice is limited to criminal and civil appeals.  As an appellate attorney she has an impressive record of success in difficult cases.  In addition to her appellate work, Keyonyu’s skill set is uniquely suited to providing legal research and writing support in the firm’s complex criminal cases.

Keyonyu is an appellate attorney, specializing in state and federal criminal appeals, as well as motions practice.  Keyonyu began her career in criminal defense in 1998 with Richilano & Ridley, P.C.  Thereafter, from 1999 through 2004 she worked in the Appellate Division of the Colorado State Public Defenders Office, where she was privileged to gain specialized appellate training and expertise.  Keyonyu has provided appellate representation to clients in over 200 felony appeals, and has achieved a remarkable rate of successful outcomes in difficult cases.

For example, in the last few years Keyonyu obtained reversals in:

  • November 2009 – reversal of 5 merged counts of attempted extreme indifference murder in an unpublished Court of Appeals decision involving instructional error in the self-defense instruction.
  • October 2008 – A first-degree murder conviction in a case involving the admission of alternate suspect evidence in an unpublished Colorado Court of Appeals decision.
  • An attempted reckless manslaughter conviction in a published Colorado Supreme Court decision, Arko v. People, 183 P.3d 555 (Colo. 2008), a case involving an instruction on lesser-included offenses.
  • Convictions for first degree murder, conspiracy to commit first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, and assault in a published Colorado Court of Appeals decision, People v. Merrow, 181 P.3d 319 (Colo. App. 2007), a case involving the erroneous denial of a defense challenge for cause.
  • October 2007 – Convictions for second-degree burglary and theft, a case involving habitual criminal charges in an unpublished Colorado Court of Appeals decision based upon the denial of the client’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel when the court forced client to proceed pro se based on an erroneous finding of implied waiver of counsel.
  • June 2006 – A second degree murder conviction in an unpublished decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals, a case involving the voluntariness of statements to law enforcement and the derivative evidence thereof, after an unambiguous invocation of the right to counsel.


  • Esparza & Associates 1997-1998
  • Richilano & Ridley, P.C. 1998-1999
  • Deputy State Public Defender (Appellate Division) 1999-2004
  • Law Office of Keyonyu X O’Connell – sole practitioner 2004 – current: Specializing in criminal appellate advocacy in both the State and Federal courts
  • Member of the first CJA appellate panel for the Tenth Circuit
  • Frequently hired by trial attorneys to assist in research and/or writing pleadings in both criminal and civil trial litigation

For a list of Keyonyu’s published cases, please click here.

Gonzaga University School of Law, J.D. 1997
Colorado State University, B.A., 1993

Bar Admission
Colorado, 1997

Court Admissions
U.S. Supreme Court, 2009
U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, 2007