In Aspen case, files offer look at defense-team split in Nancy Pfister homicide
Ryan Summerlin June 13, 2014
Documents in the Pitkin County District Court files for the three people accused of killing Aspen native Nancy Pfister provide fresh details into why one of the defendants wanted her case severed from the cases against the other two defendants.
Some documents in the files linked to William and Nancy Styler, a Front Range couple, and former Aspen bank teller Katherine Carpenter became available to the media Thursday following Judge Gail Nichols’ written ruling on Monday that allowed some files to be made public. However, the affidavits in support of arrest warrants — which contain information relating to the investigation itself and outline reasons why authorities believe the Stylers and Carpenter are responsible for Pfister’s death — will remain sealed until the four-day preliminary hearing later this month is over.
Nichols has denied the motion filed by Carpenter’s defense attorney, Greg Greer, to sever her case from the Stylers’ before the preliminary hearing. In her ruling, also made public Thursday, Nichols wrote that two or more defendants may be charged jointly “if they are alleged to have participated in the same act or series of acts arising from the same criminal episode.”
Carpenter’s motion says:
• Carpenter’s defenses are antagonistic to the defenses of the Stylers.
• The Stylers are going to assist the prosecution in attempting to convict Carpenter of murder, thus exonerating themselves, and because the prosecution has the burden of proving probable cause, any evidence presented by the Stylers against Carpenter should not be considered.
• There is insufficient room in the courtroom to permit counsel to confer confidentially during any pre-trial hearing, and thus Carpenter would be denied her right to effective assistance of counsel and due process of law.
But in denying the motion, Nichols pointed out that neither Carpenter nor the Stylers have identified their defenses.
“Without knowing what the defenses are, it is impossible to determine if the defenses are antagonistic,” Nichols wrote.
Each defendant faces charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and accessory to murder.
The newly unsealed files also contain a victim impact statement from Pfister’s older sister, Suzanne Pfister, 59. Nancy Pfister was 57 when authorities discovered her body on Feb. 26 in a closet at her West Buttermilk Road home.
Victim impact statements allow individuals directly affected by violent crimes to provide input prior to defendant bond hearings and sentencings of those who are convicted. Suzanne Pfister’s statement, dated March 26, is contained in all three defendant case files.
“My sister was killed in a totally violent manner,” she wrote. “The people who killed her should go to prison for the rest of their lives.”
Suzanne Pfister also mentions how her life has changed as a result of her younger sibling’s death.
“I have never locked my door before,” she wrote. “I lived next door to my sister and now I jump every time the dog barks. I have installed cameras outside and motion-activated lights. I live in fear.
“I am a prisoner in my beautiful home since this is a very small town. I can’t bear all the very sweet and well-meaning condolences I am subjected to if I go into town, so I don’t go. … Every time there is a hearing, it heats up again.”