Man guilty in assault and stalking as well as threat to county sentenced to 6 years
Johnston pleaded guilty last month and received two, 3-year consecutive sentences for felonies
After pleading guilty last month to two felonies related to an assault by strangulation in Aspen against a former partner and then stalking, Andrew Johnston was sentenced Monday to six years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Johnston, 27, of Colorado Springs, received two three-year sentences to run consecutively. He was facing up to six years on each count. Johnston also received a six-month sentence in the county jail in a separate incident after making threats to county officials, which led to the county administration building being shuttered for two days.
Johnston’s attorney, public defender Scott Troxell, said Monday during a Pitkin County District Court hearing that his client “needs to somehow come to terms with the struggles in his brain … and I don’t know if prison is solution.”
Before announcing his decision, Judge Chris Seldin agreed with Troxell that prison might not be the best answer to help Johnston, but the judge said it was the current system in place.
“When it comes time to issue a sentence in a case like Mr. Johnston’s, the court often feels disappointed with the options that are available to me as a sentencing judge,” Seldin said. “Do I tend to agree with Mr. Troxell that the Department of Corrections may not be in a position to provide Mr. Johnston with the most essential help? I fear that may be true. I know they do have some resources. I do hope, Mr. Johnston, that whatever will best assist you in keeping out of the criminal justice system in the future is provided to you. I do hope that.”
Johnston was accused in the sentencing hearing of trying to contact the victim as recently as Monday morning via another inmate at the Garfield County Jail, where he’s been held since first being arrested. District Attorney Don Nottingham said an inmate in the cell next to Johnston called the victim from the jail.
“For me, just regarding my safety, him still trying to contact me … it’s very concerning, and I am very worried about my safety,” the victim told the court.
Notthingham said the initial case was a very violent case that included strangulation. Since then “Mr. Johnston has continued to display a terrifying obsession with (the victim). And I don’t say this lightly. When (the victim) said says she is afraid for her safety, she is right to be afraid for her safety, because Mr. Johnston has time and time again shown he is a dangerous human being and will not let go of her.”
During the hearing, Johnston, who appeared from the county jail, made lewd gestures to the court while on video and the only statement he made was to tell the victim to “go f— herself.”
Johnston was first arrested by Aspen Police in August 2020 and charged with felony assault by strangulation and stalking causing emotional distress and domestic violence, then again in September 2020 for violating a protection order filed in connection with that case, police have said.
In April 2020, Johnston sent a violent-sounding threat from Colorado Springs to a county commissioner and another to a member of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office staff April 12. The email to the sheriff’s office came with a subject line that read “Threat. Extreme Threat,” while the content said, “Hey man, Call the chairman or someone because I’m going to come shoot up that place.”
The threat prompted a lockdown of the Pitkin County Administration Building for two days.
A civil deputy kept her job and was mandated to undergo counseling after Aspen police arrested her in July on suspicion of driving under the influence and reckless driving.