Suspect faces attempted murder charge |

Suspect faces attempted murder charge

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Donald E. Branson of Aspen has been at the Pitkin County Jail since April 9 and is on a $150,000 bond, accused of trying to slit the throat of Martin Arroyo of Glenwood Springs last week.

Branson has been charged with attempted first degree murder and first degree assault. He was once a practicing attorney in Texas and moved to Aspen about a year ago.

Arroyo was in Old Snowmass on Wednesday morning when Branson came up behind him and tried to kill him by slashing his throat with a knife, Arroyo told the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Department.

Arroyo, 33, said he was able to throw Branson, 54, down a hill and ran for help, with his neck cut open. His hand was also cut, reportedly as he was trying to defend himself.

After the incident, Arroyo was able to flag down a motorist who took him to a residence on East Cooper Ave. in Aspen that was apparently the home of both Donald Branson and his ex-wife Pamela Branson. Although they were living together, the couple was reportedly staying in separate bedrooms.

Arroyo and Pamela Branson were said to have been dating for several months, according to the sheriff department’s April 10 affidavit in support of warrantless arrest.

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Pamela Branson called 911 at about 10:55 a.m. Wednesday morning and said her ex-husband had cut her boyfriend’s throat.

As an ambulance and law enforcement officers from both Pitkin County and the city of Aspen arrived at the East Cooper Ave. residence, Arroyo came outside. He was wearing a bloody shirt and had an obvious laceration high on his neck, under his chin, police said.

A call soon went over police radios advising that Branson was a white male, about 6 feet tall, weighing 176 pounds, with gray hair. He was said to be driving a white ’98 Toyota sedan.

Arroyo was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital where he was treated and released.

Sometime after the incident on Wednesday morning, Don Branson called Pamela Branson and told her he had tried to kill Arroyo “because Arroyo is a drug dealer,” the affidavit said.

At about 11:30 a.m., a sheriff’s deputy found Branson in the Aspen Club parking lot, with a knife. He was then taken into custody.

Last Friday, Branson appeared in Pitkin County District Court and was advised of the charges against him. He is due to appear in court again on April 21.

Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is