Vail woman found in dumpster acquitted Friday
EAGLE — A jury of eight women and four men acquitted Linnea Hayda on all four counts she faced after deliberating for 10 hours, returning the unanimous verdict around 9 p.m. Friday.
Hayda, 33, faced four criminal charges stemming from a March 27, 2018, incident in which she was found in a Vail dumpster 200 yards from the apartment she shared with her ex-husband. She says her ex-husband abducted her, zip-tied her and threw her in there.
Vail police and prosecutors said nothing of the sort happened. They said Hayda put herself in the dumpster and then lied to police to try to implicate her ex-husband and bolster her position in the custody battle over their two children.
Her ex-husband was not charged, and prosecutors said during the eight days of testimony that the Vail police investigation exonerated him by accounting for his whereabouts during the incident.
Support Local Journalism
The case went to the jury Friday morning following impassioned closing arguments from both the prosecution and defense.
“Think about a couple things. Who has a dog in this fight? Who has a motive in this case? All the statements from Ms. Hayda point to one motive, to go after her ex-husband. There’s retribution,” assistant district attorney Heidi McCollum said Friday morning.
Hayda and her ex-husband were in a bitter custody battle over their two children.
Hayda told police she was abducted in an Avon parking lot as she walked to her car on the afternoon of March 26, 2018, when it was still light out. McCollum said that means Hayda’s ex-husband would have had to try to kill her and dump her body in the dumpster — all before he picked up his children from daycare, McCollum said.
As part of her guilty plea for previous domestic violence charges, Hayda was under a restraining order that barred her from retaliating against her ex-husband, McCollum said.
Defense attorney Thea Reiff argued that Vail police were careless in their investigation, that they did not prove Hayda’s ex-husband did not do this, and that exonerating him was based only on his word. Reiff also argued Hayda’s ex-husband might have used drugs to cause Hayda’s purported memory loss, adding that Hayda’s ex-husband had the most to gain if “He’s saying ‘I’m done with you, you’re trash, and no one is going to believe you when you talk about it,’” Reiff said.
“You know the biases that came into this case as soon as the woman in the dumpster was identified,” Reiff said.
Vail police spent hundreds of hours investigating the case and did a solid job, McCollum countered.
“Thank goodness they did their job and checked out her story,” McCollum said.
Deputy district attorney Johnny Lombardi asked the jury to let common sense rule their deliberations about Hayda. Her ex-husband was not on trial, Lombardi said, but Hayda was.
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
Kerri Johnson, who is serving time for role in Aspen embezzlement case, released from jail over COVID-19 concerns
The wife of former Aspen Skiing Co. executive Derek Johnson was released from jail early Thursday over concerns with the virus pandemic, though she will have to serve the remainder of her 90-day sentence.