DA has Thursday deadline to respond to objections over sealed documents in Pfister case
July 16, 2014
The 9th Judicial District Attorney's Office has a Thursday deadline to respond to objections raised by defense attorneys for William Styler and Katherine Carpenter concerning the unsealing of certain documents in the Nancy Pfister homicide case.
The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily News recently filed motions in Pitkin County District Court asking the court to unseal affidavits supporting the arrests of suspects in the murder. William and Nancy Styler, a couple from the Front Range and tenants of Pfister last winter, were arrested on March 3. Katherine Carpenter, an Aspen bank teller who collected rent money for Pfister when she traveled, was arrested on March 14.
William Styler pleaded guilty to second-degree murder on June 20. Charges against Nancy Styler and Carpenter have been dismissed by the District Attorney's Office. To date, the information contained within the arrest affidavits has not been divulged; and authorities have not stated what evidence led them to pursue charges against all three former defendants.
But prosecutors and the Pitkin County Sheriff's Office are no longer seeking to keep the information private. On Tuesday, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan filed a motion asking for permission to file her reply to the defense attorneys' objections by Friday. District Judge Gail Nichols, however, set the deadline for Thursday.
Facing a similar motion filed on behalf of nine media outlets, Nichols ruled in early June that the arrest affidavits would be unsealed following a preliminary hearing scheduled jointly for all three defendants in late June and early July. Defense attorneys had argued against making the documents public, saying it affected their clients' right to a fair trial.
William Styler's confession and conviction eliminated the need for a preliminary hearing and a trial — therefore making the judge's decision to release the affidavits following a hearing moot and leading the newspapers to file the motions.
Carpenter's attorneys filed a separate civil action asking that all of her criminal records be kept under seal. A hearing on that matter has been set for Aug. 11.