Snowmass stalker gets six years in community corrections |

Snowmass stalker gets six years in community corrections

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times

An habitual stalker of his ex-girlfriends will spend his next six years in the state’s community-corrections program, a judge ruled Monday.

Snowmass Village’s Michael A. Phillips could have faced time in state prison, but Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols opted with the less severe sentence.

“I hope the message you get is I’m giving you community corrections because I see some good in you despite the fact that you have a record and you don’t have the ability to accept someone leaving you from an intimate relationship,” Nichols told Phillips. “Until you learn to take rejection, you’re going to end up in front of me.”

Phillips said he has a history of depression and a fear of abandonment, which stems from his biological mother once trying to kill him.

“I walk everyday with my head held high, but the shadow behind holds his head down low because of the fear that I have,” said Phillips, a hip-hop artist and music producer. He later said, “My mother tried so hard to take me off this Earth.”

The prosecution and defense had polarizing views of Phillips.

Prosecutor Andrea Bryan said Phillips has squandered the multiple chances the court has given him to get on track.

“He is a threatening, scary, violent person,” she said, noting the four cases on which he was being sentenced. The cases include felony stalking convictions, violation of bail-bond conditions and other harassment-related charges.

While he had not committed any violence, he threatened to kill his former girlfriends through texts, social media and other means, and once keyed an ex-lover’s car and slashed her tires, Bryan said.

“He has zero self-control,” Bryan said, calling him a “master of manipulation, a master of lying.”

Public defender Sara Steele said there was no doubt Phillips had “crossed the line,” but time in state prison wouldn’t serve him well.

“To throw him away and to send him to the Department of Corrections is a waste,” she said. “He’s an intelligent and passionate person. He has a lot of creativity and drive. He’s someone who can contribute a lot to society and he deserves the ability to do so.”

Phillips said his seven months in Pitkin County Jail have given him time to work on improving himself and get to the bottom of his issues.

He began his most recent jail stint after he was arrested Sept. 5 for felony stalking of an ex-girlfriend. He was released on bond Sept. 27 but was arrested Nov. 20 after retaliating against the same woman.

Nichols noted that while his crimes weren’t violent, they still hurt the victims.

“In reality, the stalking is far worse because the damage is so pervasive and unending,” the judge said.

Phillips’ most recent victim listened to the sentencing hearing on telephone and asked Nichols to send him to prison.

“I think that a jail sentence is the only justifiable thing for him at this point,” she said. “I think he’s had the option of correcting his behavior multiple times and nothing has worked. I’ve been in therapy since the incident and continue to be in therapy.”

Nichols noted that “I haven’t seen the ability to really control your anger when you’re dumped, … and you haven’t been able to handle it.”

The judge said she hopes community corrections sets Phillips straight.

Community corrections is an alternative to a prison sentence that provides life-skill training, employment support and drug and alcohol treatment in a residential setting.

Phillips’ string of legal issues in Pitkin County dates back to December 2008, when he was charged with misdemeanor assault and burglary of a building. Prosecutors dropped the assault count, and Phillips received a deferred judgment for a guilty plea to burglary.

In August 2012, he was charged with four felonies on suspicion of cheating a downtown Aspen restaurant and bookkeeper out of thousands of dollars as part of an accounting scheme. Earlier that same year, he was charged with a felony on accusations that he stalked an ex-girlfriend.