Jury finds man guilty of assault

Yampa resident not guilty of attempted murder

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— A jury after five hours of deliberation found a 34-year-old Yampa man not guilty of attempted murder but guilty of a felony assault charge Thursday.

The seven women and five men on the jury found Warren Dean Hillbolt III guilty of first-degree assault, a class five felony, and violent crime with the use of a deadly weapon.

The verdict was rendered in 14th Judicial District Judge Richard P. Doucette's courtroom at about 5:30 p.m.

Hillbolt, who was neatly dressed in a black and white dress shirt and khaki slacks, showed little emotion when the verdict was read.

His court-appointed attorney, Ron Smith, patted a dejected Hillbolt on his shoulder.

The verdict was entered after jurors sat through four days of testimony regarding the night of Dec. 2, 2000, when Hillbolt shot Jared Williams at his trailer, 116400 Colorado 131. Because of the wound, Williams, 24, spent one night at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

After the verdict, Smith declined to comment on the jury's decision.

Assistant District Attorney David Waite said the jurors had come to a "fair verdict."

"I think the jury considered the victim's behavior as well as the suspect's," Waite said. "I'm satisfied with it."

After the verdict was read, Hillbolt was taken back into custody by Routt County Sheriff's deputies and taken to the Routt County Jail.

At 1 p.m. Monday, Hillbolt will appear in front of Doucette where the judge will hear arguments regarding Hillbolt's bail.

Since the shooting, Hillbolt has been unable to post $50,000 bail.

On Monday, Doucette also will schedule a sentencing date.

First-degree assault carries a prison sentence between one and three years. However, the violent crime with the use of a deadly weapon charge could increase the number of years in prison Hillbolt may face.

The verdict ended a trial that at times was heated and offered different versions of the incident.

Hillbolt was on trial for first-degree attempted murder and violent crime with the use of a deadly weapon. Instead the jury found him guilty of a lesser charge.

During jury instruction delivered Thursday morning, the jury was notified they could consider during deliberations lesser charges of second-degree attempted murder, attempted manslaughter and first- and second-degree assaults.

The jurors were handed the case just after noon and entered deliberations at about 12:30 p.m.

The jurors started to discuss the case after Waite and Smith each delivered passionate and convincing arguments Thursday morning.

Smith argued Hillbolt shot Williams in self-defense.

Hillbolt "had no choice but to act in self-defense and defend himself from another attack," Smith said.

Waite argued Hillbolt did not act out of defense or fear but rather out of anger and with the intent of killing Williams.

"The only difference from this being a murder case is (Hillbolt) missed," Waite said.

Smith and Waite did not dispute that the two men along with two others went snowboarding earlier in the day at the Steamboat Ski Area, during which time they smoked marijuana.

The attorneys also did not dispute Hillbolt and Williams went to a nearby bar and each got drunk.

What is in dispute are the versions that have been given about a scuffle between the two men outside a business near the ski mountain, the car ride to the trailer and the shooting itself.

The first time Hillbolt and Williams engaged in physical contact was outside a business near the ski resort.

Smith argued his client was dragged out of his roommate's car and did not want to participate in the wrestling. Waite argued Hillbolt voluntarily engaged in the wrestling.

On the way to Yampa from Steamboat Springs, Williams continued to taunt and bait Hillbolt, Smith said.

During the ride home, Hillbolt responded to Williams by telling him "to stop messing with him or he is going to shoot him," Waite said.

"He started to form a plan," Waite said. "He knows he does not have a gun there but he knows he has one in Yampa."

Once the men get to the trailer, Smith argues his client had no intention of shooting Williams.

"He did not run inside and get a gun," Smith said. "He plays with his dog and starts getting his gear from the car."

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