ASPEN - An Aspen visitor arrested in May on suspicion of second-degree attempted murder walked out of court Monday with a third-degree assault conviction.
Prosecutor Andrea Bryan, who was not working in Pitkin County at the time Mark A. Kaiser originally was charged, said a lack of evidence prompted her to reduce the charge and negotiate a plea deal.
"My personal assessment of this case is that it probably would have been appropriate as a third-degree assault," she said, noting that "an outsider would be shocked to see what our original charge was and what the disposition is."
Aspen police arrested Kaiser, 38, on May 16 on allegations that he beat, stabbed and choked his girlfriend at the West Hopkins Avenue residence in which they were staying.
Attorney Lawson Wills said that Kaiser, who lives in both Florida and New Jersey, said he believed he was overcharged. At the time Kaiser was charged, Arnold Mordkin ran the Pitkin County branch of the 9th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
"This was a highly contested case, and we certainly are glad that Ms. Bryan agrees that he was significantly overcharged," Wills said. "It's not that we're indicating that he was not involved in a bad situation, but we do believe a lot of untruths were told (by the alleged victim) to police regarding this."
According to police records, the alleged victim told police that she "thought she was going to be 'sliced up' and said that she was 'petrified.'" Bryan, however, said no weapons were taken into evidence and that it would be difficult to prove to a jury that Kaiser tried to kill the woman.
Judge Gail Nichols signed off on the plea agreement.
"This was a third-degree assault case, and the injury was very minor," she said. "I think this is a very, very reasonable disposition."
Nichols sentenced Kaiser to two years of unsupervised probation, which includes a deferred judgment. He also is not allowed to drink alcohol in excess as part of the agreement. Kaiser also won't serve any jail time and is under court order not to have contact with the accuser, who is his ex-girlfriend.