Police search suspect’s car in attempted murder case
April 27, 2003
Investigators recently searched the car of an Aspen man who allegedly tried to slit another man’s throat near Old Snowmass on April 9.
According to court documents, fingerprints and swabs of spots that appeared to be bloodstains were taken from the white Hyundai that Donald Branson drove before and after he allegedly tried to kill Michael Arroyo.
Branson is charged with attempted murder and first-degree assault for the alleged incident that left Arroyo with a large gash just beneath his chin.
The victim told police he had been dating Pamela Branson, Don Branson’s ex-wife, for several months before the alleged attack. Pamela and Don Branson were living in the same residence on East Cooper Avenue, but in separate rooms, a resident of the house told police.
According to the vehicle search warrant, Arroyo told police that Branson asked for his assistance in helping a friend, whose vehicle was stuck. Branson drove his ex-wife’s car to a remote location and parked the car after encountering rocks on the road.
While the two were walking and looking for the stuck vehicle, Branson came up behind him, grabbed him and cut him with a knife, Arroyo said. The victim them flipped Branson over an embankment and ran away.
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Arroyo said he ran to a nearby residence for assistance, and when no one answered the door, he ran to Snowmass Creek Road and got a ride with a passing motorist.
Pamela Branson reported the incident to police when Arroyo arrived at her house that morning. She said Donald Branson allegedly told her over the phone that he had tried to kill Arroyo because “Arroyo is a drug dealer.”
Police and sheriff’s deputies responding to the call arrested Branson near the Aspen Club after a 30-minute manhunt, at first just finding the white Hyundai parked near City Market in Aspen.
Branson allegedly held a knife he had with him up to his throat when he was initially contacted by police. He dropped the knife after police told him to repeatedly, but “spontaneously asked why [police] would not just let him kill himself” when he was being handcuffed, according to police.
Officers allegedly noticed a stain that looked like blood near Branson’s ring finger.
After the victim led police to the area of the attack, along Snowmass Creek Road, police allegedly found shoe and tire impressions in the area, as well as several spots that looked like bloodstains.
Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org