Glenwood man charged with trying to kill wife

Byron Gardner

A Glenwood Springs man tried to kill his wife Saturday by keeping her in a running car in their closed garage, authorities allege.

Byron Gardner, 41, appeared in court Monday on charges of attempted first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse, all felonies.

Gardner told police he believed his wife was leaving him, and he suggested a special evening, which started with him making her a ginger, honey and lime tea with the additional ingredient of a ground-up sleeping pill, according to the arrest affidavit in the case.

While his wife was starting to feel “weird” and “sleepy,” Gardner took her to the garage, where their SUV’s seats were pulled down and blankets inside, according to police. The vehicle was running, which he said was to keep her warm, he told investigators.

He also told police he ground up the sleeping pill just to help his wife get to sleep that night.

The garage doors were closed, and police later found a towel at the base of the main door.

Inside the SUV, his wife became more disoriented, and when she tried to get out of the car he restrained her, she told police. He kept leaving the garage and coming back while she stayed put, she said in an affidavit. But eventually she left without him holding her back.

Gardner’s wife was vomiting and disoriented when she called Glenwood Springs police saying she believed he had “dosed her drink,” according to a police press release.

When officers arrived, the home’s carbon monoxide detectors were sounding, and the couple’s two children were in the home.

She answered the door crying, with her face wet and eyes bloodshot, according to the affidavit from Detective Michael Yorty of Glenwood Springs Police.

Glenwood Springs Fire Department personnel found carbon monoxide levels in the house of over 900 parts per million in places, even after officers had propped open a door for about 10 minutes. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission website says that at sustained CO concentrations above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness and death are possible.

“Firefighter Josh Allison advised he has never seen CO levels that high in a house before, and that if the (family) had not been evacuated they would have fallen asleep and never woken up,” according to the affidavit.

All four were transported to Valley View Hospital, where the two children were released to family members. Gardner and his wife were transported to Swedish Medical Center in Englewood for treatment in a hypobaric chamber, said Glenwood Springs Police Lt. Bill Kimminau.

During Gardner’s advisement Monday before Magistrate Holly Strablizky, defense attorney Jason Jovanovich spoke on Garnder’s behalf.

The attorney said he wasn’t formally Gardner’s attorney because he didn’t have the opportunity to speak with the defendant before the court appearance, but said Gardner’s family had contacted him.

Jovanovich argued to reduce Gardner’s bail, set at $500,000 by Judge John Neiley in the arrest warrant. The attorney said Gardner suffered from mental illness and wanted the opportunity to seek treatment outside of jail.

Classified as a crime of violence, the attempted first-degree murder count, a class 2 felony, carries a potential sentence of 16 to 48 years in prison, said the magistrate.

The two counts of child abuse, class 3 felonies, were also considered crimes of violence and extreme risk crimes, carrying potential sentences of 10 to 32 years in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Anne Norrdin argued to keep the bond in place, saying that evidence showed Gardner took “concrete, planned steps” toward killing his wife, who, according to the affidavit, is pregnant. He also exposed his children to near-deadly levels of carbon monoxide, she said.

Magistrate Strablizky entered a protection order barring Gardner from contact with his wife and left his bail at $500,000.

Gardner’s next court date was set for 1:30 p.m. Feb. 17.