Trial dates set for Krabloonik owner’s animal-cruelty case | AspenTimes.com

Trial dates set for Krabloonik owner’s animal-cruelty case

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Krabloonik owner Dan MacEachen, who faces eight misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty related to the alleged lack of care of eight dogs that were part of his Snowmass Village sledding business, is scheduled to stand trial in May.

During a hearing on the case Tuesday, Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely set the trial date for May 18. Prosecutor Jason Slothouber said the trial may take as long as five days because extensive pretrial publicity in the case likely will result in a lengthy jury-selection process.

MacEachen attended the proceeding but did not speak. He previously pleaded not guilty to the charges. A status conference was set for March 31.

After searching the Krabloonik property in December, the 9th Judicial District Attorney's Office charged MacEachen with the eight counts — one for each animal it seized. Since that time, Glenwood Springs defense attorney Greg Greer, who is representing MacEachen, has been discussing potential plea agreements with prosecutors.

Greer declined comment on the case Tuesday. Slothouber said there has been no breakdown in the talks about potential plea offerings.

"I wouldn't say that there has been a breakdown," Slothouber said. "Both sides are still talking about a way to resolve the case that would lead to a just resolution."

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A trial that was previously scheduled for early October did not materialize. Hearings related to the case and the planned October trial were repeatedly postponed as the two sides filed motions and responses while also attempting to work out a disposition.

"As of now, there is no plea (deal)," Slothouber said. "That provides sort of a finality point. There is another court date that is set in March, and maybe we can reach a just resolution of the case through a plea by then. If not, we will have the trial in May. We always are open to discussions with the defense. Our door is always open and we are always willing to listen."

Without explanation, Greer said in court Tuesday that he is withdrawing six pretrial motions he had filed in the case.

Meanwhile, MacEachen is in talks with his directors of operations, Danny and Gina Phillips, about selling the dog-sledding business. The couple said earlier this month that they had signed a purchase agreement with him but hadn't finalized it yet, in part because they are waiting to hear on a decision from the town of Snowmass Village on the transfer of MacEachen's lease agreement.

The town owns the land Krabloonik operates on, and on Monday, the Town Council agreed to discuss the lease at one of its regular meetings in January.

Snowmass Sun Editor Jill Beathard contributed to this story.