Victim’s story changed in Hecht case
The alleged victim in the domestic-violence case against a local developer and landlord initially made statements implicating him, then later recanted and changed her story, according to court documents.
Law enforcement officials, however, chose to believe the first version and charged Nikos Hecht, 45, with assault, menacing, domestic violence and two counts of harassment, all misdemeanors.
“We do the same thing with every case,” said Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo. “It goes through filters.”
In this case, a deputy gathered the initial evidence, which was reviewed by a supervisor, DiSalvo said. Then it was reviewed by an official from the District Attorney’s Office and Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely before an arrest warrant was issued Friday for Hecht, he said.
Hecht initially came to the attention of law enforcement after dispatchers received a 911 hangup call from his house on the 600 block of Owl Creek Ranch Road at 4:37 a.m. Wednesday. When they called back, Hecht told them he’d been trying to call back the alarm company and there was no problem, the warrant states.
But when deputies met with the 30-year-old victim at the Aspen Valley Hospital emergency room Wednesday afternoon, she told them she called 911 after a conflict with Hecht, who warned her that he would “kill her mom and dad” if she called police, the warrant states. After that, she said she tried to leave the house from a bathroom back door, but Hecht grabbed her purse, which was slung over her shoulder, and swung her back into the room.
The victim said she then tried to grab another door handle for balance, but Hecht pushed her and she fell to the floor, hitting her head on the concrete, according to the warrant. She said she received a bump on the back of her head from the fall.
She also said Hecht removed jewelry from her purse, emptied other contents onto the floor and smashed it while accusing her of stealing from him, the warrant states. She was later able to leave the home on her own.
Before they spoke to the victim, deputies received a call Wednesday from her psychiatrist “concerned about domestic violence” who asked them to check up on her, the warrant states. Later on Wednesday afternoon, a woman who identified herself as a friend of the victim’s called deputies and said the victim sent her a photo and an audio recording that morning that appeared illustrate a “dangerous situation,” and the friend was worried about the victim.
The friend shared the video with deputies, which was captured from a cellphone in a pocket, so mostly just audio was available. In it, Hecht and the victim talk about “past relationships and money” before Hecht can be heard threatening to cut the victim. After that, “a commotion is heard, followed by gasping for breath and (the victim) begging Hecht to ‘Stop! … Please don’t hurt me … Please … You just choked me!’” the warrant states.
The picture showed a “distinct bruise” on the victim’s right bicep.
However, when deputies met with the victim at her Aspen apartment less than 24 hours after they spoke with her at the hospital, they received a different story, according to the warrant.
At that time, she said she “over exaggerated” the comment about being choked and that Hecht only had his hands on her shoulders during the argument. She produced a bag of jewelry and told deputies none was damaged. She said her head didn’t hurt anymore and she didn’t have a bruise, and a deputy couldn’t locate a bump on her head. She said her friend with the video was “a jealous man-hater who made up allegations and shared the photo and video without permission,” the warrant states.
The victim also wouldn’t authorize the release of her medical records, and said Hecht was being “very nice and apologetic.” She later dropped off a handwritten statement saying nothing criminal happened, that Hecht’s threat to cut her was an “inside joke” said “with sarcasm … that is humor to us,” and that she was on prescription drugs and not thinking clearly when she made her earlier statements, according to the warrant.
A deputy later checked the victim’s cellphone records and found 109 calls were made from Hecht’s home to her cell phone between 10:10 p.m. Wednesday and 7:35 a.m. Thursday. Most of the calls lasted two to five seconds, the warrant states.
Hecht was advised of the charges against him Friday afternoon, when Fernandez-Ely set a $1,000 personal recognizance bond for him. He is due back in court in September.
Hecht and his father, Aspen attorney Andy Hecht, own a number of Aspen commercial properties. Those include the building that houses Little Annie’s, the Benton building and other commercial structures. Nikos Hecht also developed the Muse Building on East Hyman Avenue, where the top-floor penthouse sold for $15.8 million in November.
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.