Man accused of punching Ireland hires local lawyer |

Man accused of punching Ireland hires local lawyer

John Colson

The man who allegedly punched out Pitkin County Commissioner Mick Ireland a month ago has hired an attorney to fight the municipal court charge that resulted from the incident.

Kevin McCarthy, 43, hired local attorney Jeff Wertz to defend him against a misdemeanor charge of assault and battery.

It is relatively unusual to see attorneys appear in municipal court on misdemeanor charges, but not unheard of.

In fact, Wertz noted this week that he has appeared in municipal court several times and has even taken municipal charges all the way to jury trials in three cases.

“I consider myself two-for-three in municipal court,” Wertz said, explaining that one jury decided his client was innocent in an assault case, and that another case was thrown out due to an unacceptable delay when the prosecution’s main witnesses went on vacation. The jury found his client guilty in the third case, he said.

Asked whether this case might end up before a jury, Wertz said, “It’s too early to tell.”

He said he will be negotiating with the city attorney’s office on a plea bargain of some sort, but those negotiations were not finished as of Monday.

“I don’t know that that’s where this is going,” he said of a jury trial. “I haven’t actually sat down and asked the city attorney, short of taking this to trial, what can we do here.”

According to police, McCarthy started punching Ireland, 51, in the parking lot of the Aspen Post Office on Jan. 19 after Ireland pulled his Volkswagen convertible into a parking space next to McCarthy’s Range Rover. The VW’s driver’s door apparently bumped the Range Rover’s passenger door when Ireland got out.

The two men apparently had words before the fists started flying, according to both their versions of the event. Two witnesses reported that McCarthy launched an “unprovoked” attack on Ireland after Ireland had turned away and was walking into the post office.

McCarthy maintained that Ireland acted belligerently when McCarthy asked him about hitting the Range Rover’s door, and that it was Ireland’s behavior that led him to take a swing.

McCarthy could not be reached for comment on how his case is progressing.

Ireland, while reluctant to say much about the case, declared, “I don’t care what happens to this guy, but there has got to be a message that you just don’t pound somebody for bumping his door into your car.”

McCarthy, who is charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and battery, faces a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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