One-time suspect in attempted murder a free man |

One-time suspect in attempted murder a free man

Chad Abraham

A man who once faced an attempted murder charge – and possibly as many as 24 years in prison – walked out of the Pitkin County Courthouse a free man Monday.Prosecutors dropped charges against Kevin A. Gibson, 37, of Aspen. The alleged victim did not respond to prosecutors’ attempts to contact him about the case, said deputy district attorney Gail Nichols. In essence: no victim, no case.”We didn’t have much choice,” Nichols said.The prosecutor had already dropped the attempted homicide charge, which was filed by former deputy district attorney Andrew Heyl, saying that count wasn’t warranted. Gibson had also been charged with second-degree assault.The alleged victim, who has since returned to Maryland, came out to Aspen to work under Gibson. Early Christmas Day, they argued about the victim’s drinking, and the dispute turned physical. Authorities said Gibson plunged a knife into the victim’s face, striking his jawbone.After the charge was tossed out Monday, exonerating Gibson, his lawyer, John Van Ness, said the victim’s injuries were less than severe.”I’ve cut myself worse shaving,” he said. Gibson was trying to defend himself against the alleged victim, who barely realized he had been cut, Van Ness said.He said such a serious charge had originally been filed because police and prosecutors often get only one side of the story.”Things get embellished. There was no knife attack,” Van Ness said. Bringing such a charge was a “flight of fancy.”Had he been found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, Gibson could have received between eight and 24 years in prison. In other court news Monday: A man arrested in the Dec. 2 drug raids in Aspen pleaded guilty to possession of a half-gram of cocaine and was sentenced to two years’ probation.Marcos Memije-Guzman was originally charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and money laundering, both felonies.Five of the 10 men arrested on drug charges in the controversial busts have reached plea bargains and received probation sentences. Memije-Guzman’s sentence mirrored those of two other men arrested Dec. 2 who were sentenced last month.More than 50 officers from multiple agencies, some with guns drawn, burst into two restaurants during après-ski, raided a home and arrested the suspects. Five ounces of cocaine, mostly from the home and Little Annie’s Eating House, were allegedly seized. The operation sparked a communitywide discussion about drugs and police work.Three other cases related to drug arrests were continued Monday. The arraignment of renowned hairdresser Pascal Bensimon, who allegedly swiped a laptop belonging to actor Kevin Costner, was continued.Neither Bensimon, 44, of Aspen, nor his high-profile attorney, Pamela Mackey, who represented Kobe Bryant in his sexual assault case in Eagle County, attended Monday’s hearing. Prosecutor Gail Nichols said the continuance was prearranged.Bensimon is charged with felony theft; he is accused of stealing the $1,500 computer during Costner’s Aspen wedding in September 2004. He had been hired to style guests’ hair. Police say hard feelings over the way the suspect was treated and paid may have led to the incident.The arraignment was moved to March 6.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is