More felonies filed against alleged Aspen hostage-taker
The 30-year-old Colorado Springs resident already facing 14 felonies for allegedly taking three men hostage and threatening to kill them this summer was charged with four more felonies last month, according to court documents.
In addition, the District Attorney’s Office also filed violent crime sentence enhancers in December against Brolin McConnell that require steep mandatory minimum prison sentences if he’s convicted of some of the felonies, said Deputy District Attorney Sarah Oszczakiewicz.
For example, if McConnell is convicted of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping, he would have to serve a mandatory minimum of 16 years in prison on each count. If he’s convicted of the two counts of attempted first-degree kidnapping filed against him, he would have to serve mandatory minimums of eight years on each count, she said.
That means he would be required to serve a minimum of 48 years in prison if he’s convicted of those four counts, Oszczakiewicz said. McConnell could be sentenced to a maximum of 160 years behind bars if he’s convicted of just those four counts, she said.
“This is a serious case,” Oszczakiewicz said.
Authorities say McConnell, a real estate broker, parked his vehicle about a quarter of a mile down Lincoln Creek Road on Independence Pass on July 27 and pulled two handguns on three men he didn’t know. The alleged hostages told police he repeatedly threatened to shoot them in the head while making bizarre statements about drones, microphones and the FBI.
The hostages — all young men in their early 20s — were eventually able to run away from McConnell when he became distracted, and none were physically injured, police have said. After the last hostage escaped, Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies and an Aspen police officer rushed in and arrested McConnell without incident.
McConnell has been held at the Pitkin County Jail in lieu of a $500,000 cash-only bond ever since.
Officers and deputies who dealt with McConnell after the incident on Lincoln Creek Road thought he might have been under the influence of methamphetamines or have been having mental health issues, according to police reports.
Blood tests later found no illegal drugs in McConnell’s body at the time of the incident, Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo has said. The test turned up a small amount of marijuana, he said.
McConnell, who has not yet entered pleas in the case, was originally scheduled for a preliminary hearing a few days before Christmas during which a district court judge would have determined if probable cause existed to charge him with the counts against him.
That hearing, however, was postponed until Jan. 24. McConnell’s lawyer wanted to have him examined by a private psychiatrist before that hearing, and Oszczakiewicz said she agreed to postpone it with the understanding that she would receive the results of the examination.
McConnell’s Denver-based attorney did not return a phone call Wednesday, so it was not clear if that examination has taken place yet.
Meanwhile on Dec. 15, Oszczakiewicz added three counts of felony second-degree kidnapping and another count of felony menacing to the charges already filed against McConnell. If he’s convicted of all 10 menacing charges filed against him, he could face an extra 10 to 30 years in prison.
That means he would face a total of between 58 and 190 years in prison if convicted on all charges filed against him, Oszczakiewicz said. The exact number could vary widely, however, because a judge could decide to run the counts concurrently or consecutively, she said. In addition, a judge could consider lesser versions of the charges if he doesn’t think the original charge is merited, and those could come with lesser prison sentences, she said.
The total current charges against McConnell include two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of first-degree kidnapping, two counts of attempted first-degree kidnapping, 10 counts of felony menacing, three counts of second-degree kidnapping and one misdemeanor count of prohibited use of weapons.
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An Aspen conservation non-profit wants permission from Pitkin County to establish a low-impact nature education and camping area near Ashcroft on a plot of land originally approved for a single family home.