William Styler a no-show in bankruptcy case hearing
The Aspen Times
While his criminal case in Aspen has been closed, convicted murderer William Styler has an unrelated civil case pending in Denver federal court. But Wednesday, he missed a conference call for the bankruptcy case in which he claims a former attorney of his owes him more than $800,000.
“At this point we have to believe he is not interested in going forward or he would have appeared or tried to make a collect call to me to say he could arrange something with the court,” attorney Phillip Theune told Judge Howard Tallman. “My next step is to file for failure to prosecute.”
Theune is the attorney for lawyer John Powell. Powell once represented Styler, who for a time was an anesthesiologist on the Front Range, in his lawsuit against Colorado Anesthesia Consultants. Styler lost, but Powell billed him for more than $610,000, according to court documents.
That prompted Styler to sue Powell, with a Denver court awarding him a default judgment of more than $800,000. Powell then filed for bankruptcy, which protected him from paying Styler.
In December 2012, Styler filed what’s called an “adversary action” in Powell’s bankruptcy to collect the judgment. But his no-show at Tuesday’s conference put his collection efforts in jeopardy.
The Pfister murder
Styler, 66, currently is in the custody of the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center, a holding facility that includes a hospital, according to the Department of Corrections.
At a sentencing hearing June 20 in Pitkin County District Court, he was given a 20-year state prison term for his confession to the second-degree murder of Aspen native Nancy Pfister at her West Buttermilk Road home in February. Pfister, whose parents founded Buttermilk ski area, was 57 when Styler bludgeoned her to death with a hammer while she was sleeping.
His wife Nancy also had been a suspect, as had local Katherine Carpenter, who was a personal assistant of Pfister’s. Both were set free, and Nancy Styler’s attorney has said that she plans to file for divorce from her incarcerated husband.
Money problems ran deep
The Styler couple had rented out Pfister’s home since late 2013, but Pfister, who was out of the country while they were tenants, had complained on Facebook that they hadn’t paid rent.
“William Styler and Nancy Pfister were involved in a dispute about the rental of Nancy Pfister’s home and monies that she thought the Stylers owed her,” said a statement from District Attorney Sherry Caloia at the time of Styler’s sentencing.
The affidavit for William Styler’s arrest also showed that the couple had major financial problems — their credit scores were so low that on Feb. 18, Alpine Bank rejected his loan application seeking $25,000 to $50,000. Styler had told a loan officer that he needed the money to pay his first and last months’ rent at Pfister’s home and start a spa at the Hotel Jerome, the affidavit says.
Money issues had plagued Styler before he moved to Aspen, notably his efforts to collect from his former attorney Powell. In a May 5, 2013-dated affidavit written by Denver lawyer Paul Gordon, who represented Styler in his adversary action against Powell, Gordon wrote, “In my opinion, Dr. Styler was unusually vulnerable to being victimized by an attorney over-billing a client.” Gordon also said that “Dr. Styler repeatedly expressed suicidal thoughts.”
Meanwhile, at Wednesday’s teleconference, Theune said he notified Styler by mail about the conference call.
Judge Tallman told Theune that he can file either a motion to dismiss Styler’s complaint or seek an order to show cause for failure to prosecute. The judge gave Theune a Jan. 2 deadline to file the paperwork.
“We will work through this process and see where it leads us,” Tallman said.