Lawyer: Dismiss charges against alleged Independence Pass hostage-taker from 2016 incident

Brolin McConnell, who is from Colorado Springs, gets escorted into court in Aspen in July 2016.
The Aspen Times file photo

The lawyer for a Colorado Springs man accused of terrorizing three strangers at gunpoint on Independence Pass in July 2016 wants the charges against his client dismissed, according to court records.

Brolin McConnell, 32, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to the numerous felony charges filed against him — including attempted first-degree murder — in December. The next month, District Judge Chris Seldin ordered psychiatrists at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo to evaluate McConnell’s sanity.

He has been waiting at the Pitkin County Jail for the past 10 months for the mental health-facility to schedule the evaluation, which violates McConnell’s right to a speedy trail, according to a motion filed Nov. 12 by his Denver-based lawyer, Ryan Cox.

“Rather than going though the process of observation and examination, (McConnell) is languishing while he waits for this to commence,” the motion states. “Since no delays have been requested by the People, let alone granted by the court, the law compels the court to calculate this delay against the speedy trial deadline, which has since expired.

“Due to this expiration, (the law) requires dismissal of the charges.”

In a response filed Tuesday, Aspen prosecutor Don Nottingham disagreed and asked Seldin to deny the motion.

“The prosecution has no interest in delaying the case any further than necessary,” Nottingham wrote. “However, the delays based on the defendant’s plea of not guilty by reason of insanity are necessary to allow the defendant to defend himself.”

In the event Judge Seldin decides to deny the motion, McConnell’s lawyer asked for a hearing to reduce his client’s bond — now set at $50,000 cash-only.

Colorado law says the time a defendant remains in jail awaiting a sanity examination and the completion of the examination reports — as well as the time spent in an institution awaiting the actual examination — is to be excluded from speedy trial calculations, Nottingham wrote in his response.

Officials at the state mental-health facility — known as CMHIP — wrote to the court in June and again in September requesting more time for the evaluation, according to court records. The September letter said the facility would have McConnell’s evaluation done by Nov. 30, records state.

A spokesman for the Colorado Department of Human Services — which oversees CMHIP — did not return a request for comment Tuesday.

McConnell’s case is next set to be addressed Dec. 3 by the District Court.

McConnell allegedly took three young men hostage July 27, 2016, on Lincoln Creek Road at gunpoint and allegedly repeatedly threatened to kill them. He allegedly fired a bullet next to the head of one of the men and another at his feet. Those three men — who were all able to eventually run away from McConnell — sued him in Pitkin County District Court in June 2017 for “extreme and outrageous conduct.”

McConnell, a real estate broker, is facing two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of attempted first-degree kidnapping, three counts of second-degree kidnapping and 10 counts of felony menacing.

He has been incarcerated at the Pitkin County Jail since the July 2016 incident, which ended after McConnell dropped the two handguns he was holding and was arrested by police. Since his incarceration, McConnell has made news twice for issues inside the jail.

He was sanctioned internally in the spring of 2017 after officials discovered he and a female inmate engaged in a two-hour round of consensual sex in his cell, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo has said. Then in November 2017, he was charged with possession of contraband for allegedly using another inmate’s smuggled cellphone to send 1,400 text messages to his family.

That misdemeanor charge was dismissed “in the interest of judicial economy” in October, according to court records.