Aspen judge to hear arguments to keep ex-defendant’s records sealed in Nancy Pfister murder case
Ryan Summerlin July 10, 2014
Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols has scheduled a hearing for Aug. 11 on Carbondale resident Katherine Carpenter’s petition to seal arrest records connected to the Nancy Pfister murder case.
Carpenter, 56, is a former suspect in the late February death of the 57-year-old Aspen native. First-degree murder charges against her were dismissed by the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on June 20, the day that a former Denver-area anesthesiologist, William Styler, pleaded guilty in court to second-degree murder and received a 20-year prison sentence.
Styler, who struck a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office, said he acted alone when he killed Pfister on Feb. 24 as she was sleeping in her West Buttermilk Road residence. Authorities have said that they were embroiled in a dispute over money.
Carpenter also had been charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory to first-degree murder. She was arrested by the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office on March 14. Styler, 66, and his wife, Nancy, 62, were arrested on March 3. Charges against Nancy Styler — identical to the ones that Katherine Carpenter faced — also have been dismissed.
On behalf of several media organizations, including The Aspen Times, Denver attorney Steven D. Zansberg plans to file a motion to intervene to oppose the sealing petition this week. Zansberg specializes in First Amendment issues.
The District Attorney’s Office also is expected to oppose Carpenter’s sealing petition.
To date, the affidavits in support of the Sheriff’s Office arrests of the Stylers and Carpenter, a former Aspen bank teller, have been sealed by the court. Though some information about the case has come to light through various avenues — including court hearings and some recently unsealed case files — the statements that authorities submitted to Nichols to obtain arrest warrants have not been made public.