Prosecutor eases charges in Christmas Day stabbing
The lawyer for a man who allegedly stabbed his employee in the face said in court Monday that he will attempt to get the charges thrown out based on Colorado’s “make my day” law.Kevin A. Gibson, 37, of Aspen, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, second-degree assault and a bail violation. But prosecutor Gail Nichols said she would only prosecute the assault charge and said the bail violation was to be taken care of in county court.Nichols, in court for the first time since now-deposed District Attorney Colleen Truden had her escorted out of the building (see related story), said an attempted first-degree murder charge wasn’t warranted.Former deputy district attorney Andrew Heyl filed that charge, saying it appeared Gibson had acted with premeditation.Gibson’s attorney, John Van Ness, said the alleged victim had been the aggressor and his client was acting in self-defense. The victim had come to the Roaring Fork Valley from Baltimore after being invited to work for Gibson, a carpenter who’s lived in Aspen for nearly four years.Gibson told the man to expect to work 12-hour days, seven days a week, Van Ness said. He was staying temporarily with Gibson at the Tyrolean Lodge, where the men also worked.The owners of the lodge were in court to support Gibson and wrote a letter backing his character, Van Ness said.On Christmas Eve, Gibson and the victim argued about work, with the man noting the holiday and saying he wanted to go out drinking, Van Ness told Judge James Boyd. Gibson fired the man, who came back early Christmas morning to retrieve his things.The argument continued, and Van Ness said Gibson was assaulted.”That’s when the knife came into play,” he said.Gibson had been in the kitchen cutting carrots when the fight erupted. The suspect allegedly plunged the knife into the victim’s face, striking his jawbone. The victim received stitches at Aspen Valley Hospital and was released; he has since returned to Baltimore.Van Ness requested that Gibson’s bond be reduced from $75,000 to $5,000. Nichols, noting that she would not pursue the attempted murder charge, asked that bond be reduced to $6,000.Boyd mentioned both the suspect’s substantial community ties and his criminal history before lowering the bond to $9,000.A hearing to discuss Van Ness’ motion to dismiss the case under the “make my day” law, which allows homeowners to use lethal force to protect themselves, is set for Feb. 6. In other court news, the lawyer for a Fort Collins woman accused of vehicular manslaughter will likely try to suppress statements and evidence related to blood work.Stormy Lindblom, 25, also faces charges of DUI and careless driving causing bodily injury stemming from a fatal crash on Highway 133 on New Year’s Eve 2005. Redstone resident Josanna Reece, 22, died in the accident.The suppression hearing is Feb. 21. Boyd approved public defender Greg Greer’s request to be removed from representing Carbondale resident Billy Knoeppchen.The 28-year-old, charged with first- and second-degree assault, has not turned in the requisite financial paperwork to prove he qualifies for a taxpayer-funded defense, Greer said. The suspect recently got out of jail on $15,000 bond.”I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Knoeppchen said angrily. “I make no money. I live with my mother.”Boyd told Knoeppchen to file a motion so the judge can review Greer’s decision not to represent him.The suspect, who intends to plead not guilty, will next be in court Jan. 26. A plea agreement is “very close” in the case of Martha Byrum, Greer said.Byrum, 32, of Snowmass Village allegedly broke into Aspen Police Chief Loren Ryerson’s home in late October while fleeing officers. Police say she was carrying nearly 5 grams of cocaine, a crack pipe and other paraphernalia.Greer said the case should be resolved by her next court date Jan. 26.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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It’s that time of year — hikers and mountain bikers must be aware that seasonal closures are taking effect on multiple trails in the area today for the winter for the benefit of wildlife.