Jury convicts Aspen man in daylong trial
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – A jury Friday convicted an Aspen man of one misdemeanor count that stemmed from an incident in which he allegedly harassed a former lover.
Frank Charles Palmer III sat as the verdict was read in Pitkin County Court. He was convicted of violation of a protection order. The class I misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 18 months in jail.
The four-man, two-woman jury took nearly three hours to reach its verdict. The decision was reached shortly before 9 p.m.
Palmer was acquitted of a lesser harassment count. He is to next appear in court May 12 for sentencing. Palmer is free on $10,000 bond.
Deputy District Attorney Richard Nedlin said after the jury trial he was pleased with the outcome.
“I’m glad that the jury found him guilty of the most serious of charges,” he said.
The verdict came at end of a daylong trial in which defense attorney Jeffery Wertz said the violation was a mistake not initiated by his client. He said that Palmer was at home watching a football game on Sept. 29 when a friend asked to use the telephone.
The friend, identified as Matt Franzen, testified he got distracted while using the phone and mistakenly hit a speed dial button that connected him with the victim’s office line.
Franzen said he realized the error and handed the phone to Palmer, who happened to be talking about the victim. At about the same time her voice mail engaged and recorded a six-word, four-second expletive-laced message from Palmer.
Palmer said he quickly hung up the phone. He admitted to leaving the message but said that he was “projecting” or acting out a conversation with the victim and that he did not intentionally violate the protection order.
Franzen said that he “felt horrible” about the incident. Palmer later testified that he was “very upset with Matt” about the gaffe.
Nedlin bristled at the suggestion that the scenario played out as stated. He characterized the event as the “perfect storm of all circumstances.”
Nedlin also introduced evidence, including telephone use reports from a local carrier, that showed the phone call was not made from Palmer’s home.
The trial was the first criminal case to go to a verdict in Pitkin County in recent memory.
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