Thompson pleads not guilty to February slaying in El Jebel |

Thompson pleads not guilty to February slaying in El Jebel

Aspen Times Staff Writer

The man accused of beating his friend to death in El Jebel last month pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder Wednesday.

Russell Kyle Thompson’s plea sets the stage for a five-day jury trial in Eagle County District Court starting Aug. 27.

District Attorney Michael Goodbee said negotiations between his office and the public defender representing Thompson haven’t been fruitful to this point.

“This isn’t a case where we are on the edge of having an acceptable plea agreement,” said Goodbee. “This very well may be a case that needs to be tried.”

Thompson, 37, of Glenwood Springs, is accused of beating Timothy “Chico” Destromp to death during an argument in Destromp’s apartment Feb. 10. The men got together for a night of drinking when relations turned nasty.

Thompson allegedly told police that Destromp accused him of seeing Destromp’s girlfriend, then started throwing punches and trying to kick him.

Thompson, a semi-pro boxer, allegedly estimated to police that he threw between 30 and 40 punches, mainly to Destromp’s head. All the bones in the middle of Destromp’s face were broken, according to a pathologist’s report.

In a hearing earlier this month, public defender Elizabeth Espinosa argued that the charge should be reduced to criminally negligent homicide. Thompson should have known that his actions could kill Destromp, but that “didn’t click” during the fight, she said.

She claimed Thompson thought he and Destromp would wake up sore from the fight the next day but would forget about it.

A judge ruled there was enough evidence to justify the second-degree murder charge. Thompson remains in Eagle County Jail on $75,000 bond.

Judge Richard Hart scheduled a motions hearing for the case on May 23. The district attorney’s office will lay out the evidence it plans to present at trial. Espinosa will have the opportunity to challenge whether some of that information is admissible, such as statements made by Thompson at the time of his arrest and evidence seized at the scene of the killing.

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