State finds Aspen Highlands chairlift pusher legally insane |

State finds Aspen Highlands chairlift pusher legally insane

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Thomas Proesel

A man charged with pushing another man off a chairlift in Aspen has been deemed legally insane by a state psychiatrist.

Even so, Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin at a hearing Monday set July 15 as the bench trial date for Thomas Proesel in the interest of granting the suspect a speedy trial.

In April, Proesel pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to an attempted first-degree assault charge stemming from his pushing a 28-year-old snowboarder off the Loge Peak lift at Aspen Highlands on the morning of Jan. 17. The snowboarder, after plummeting 20 to 25 feet into a pile of fresh powder, was not injured.

Proesel’s mental condition at the time is at the center of the case. During a conference call with Seldin and prosecutor Andrea Bryan, Proesel’s attorney, Saskia A. Jordan of Denver, said he was “in a psychotic state at the time of the incident.”

Jordan, during the hearing, noted that she and Bryan have discussed the state’s findings on Proesel and suggested that Bryan will not challenge the report.

“If the finding of insanity is not going to be contested, how much of a trial do we need to have?” Jordan said.

Bryan declined comment after the hearing.

Proesel did not appear at Monday’s hearing, but his presence will be required for the trial, which won’t have a jury and will be presided over by Seldin. Since Feb. 13, Proesel has resided in the Pasadena Villa Smoky Mountain Lodge, a treatment facility in Tennessee.

Seldin also granted permission to Proesel, 32, formerly an Aspen resident, to live with his parents in Winnetka, Illinois. That arrangement, which includes a set of bond conditions Proesel must abide by, was not contested by the victim, Bryan said.

After he is discharged from Pasadena Villa, Proesel will be in the company of his father on the trip home, according to court records.

Proesel’s father also is under court order to ensure that his son takes his prescribed oral medication, while a physician will monitor his intradermal injections. One drug is an anti-psychotic medication and the other is a mood stabilizer, according to court records.

The judge also allowed Proesel to leave his home, but only if he is accompanied by his father or a relative approved by his father. Proesel also is forbidden from consuming alcohol or using marijuana.

“The court does appreciate the proactive approach the family has taken to ensure that Mr. Proesel is receiving the care he needs,” Seldin said.

A status conference on the case is scheduled for July 5.