Steamboat Springs Citing pretrial publicity as "massive, pervasive and inherently prejudicial," Adam Whitlow Cumbie's attorney filed Friday to move the man's assault case from Routt County to a neighboring one.
Cumbie's attorney, James B.F. Oliphant, filed a motion for a change of venue at about noon Friday. Oliphant is requesting the case be moved to Moffat County.
The attorney will be requesting 14th Judicial District Court Judge Joel S. Thompson to grant the motion during his client's next court appearance, 1 p.m. March 9.
Larry Combs, who is assisting Oliphant in defending the former Steamboat Springs man, believes the jury pool in Routt County has been "tainted" because of print and radio coverage of the man's case.
"Everyone is entitled to a fair and impartial jury," Combs said. "A jury needs to consist of people that have not formed an opinion based on what they have heard or read."
According to the three-page motion, pretrial publicity that has been printed in Steamboat Today and broadcast on a local radio station, KBCR Big Country, "has created in the minds of potential jurors such fixed opinions that such jurors cannot judge this case fairly and impartially."
Deputy District Attorney Charles Feldmann, who is handling the case, had not seen or reviewed the motion when contacted Friday afternoon.
"It would be improper for me to comment at this time," Feldmann said.
Cumbie, 28, faces charges of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, violent crime with use of a weapon, criminal attempt and third-degree assault stemming from an incident last March.
Cumbie allegedly assaulted his girlfriend at the time, Melinda Wilding, and a friend, Andrew Wilson.
Cumbie allegedly struck Wilson in the head with a sledgehammer and assaulted Wilding when she tried to break up the fight between the two men.
In addition to those charges, Feldmann charged Cumbie Dec. 29 with violation of a bail bond condition, a class six felony, and violation of a restraining order, a class one misdemeanor.
Those charges were filed when Feldmann found out Cumbie was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving in Breckenridge last June.
As part of the bond and restraining order conditions placed on Cumbie for the alleged assaults, he was to refrain from consuming alcohol.
Along with the motion, Oliphant included four articles that have been published in Steamboat Today and four transcripts of KBCR radio broadcasts.
The motion claims the newspaper and radio station have reported information "highly prejudicial" and reported information of the court proceedings that would not be admissible in court, the motion states.
The motion also claims "the headlines of the four newspaper articles are extremely prejudicial and inflammatory."
The motion also maintains the newspaper's coverage and radio reports of a plea agreement that was rejected by Judge Thompson in December "is likely to have created in the minds of potential jurors fixed opinions," the motion states.
Last October, Feldmann and Oliphant worked out a plea agreement.
Thompson rejected the agreement, which Cumbie would have pleaded guilty to second-degree assault with a weapon, a class five felony, and third-degree assault, a class one misdemeanor.
A stipulation in the agreement was the felony charge would be deferred for two years, meaning the conviction would be dismissed if Cumbie did not get into trouble with the law during that period.
For the guilty plea to the third-degree assault, he could have been sentenced to two years in the Routt County Jail.
Thompson rejected the agreement after a presentence investigation revealed Cumbie was arrested for DUI.
After the alleged assaults, which took place at Wilding's residence in the 2900 block of Chinook Lane March 31, Cumbie moved to Frisco.
The motion claims "that no curative or admonishment instruction would cure the prejudicial situation that has been created by such extensive and prejudicial pretrial publicity."
Cumbie's attorneys believe Moffat County "would be an appropriate and convenient jurisdiction," for the case.
"It's outside the scope of any prejudicial media coverage," Combs said.
Oliphant also filed affidavits signed by four Routt County residents who have formed opinions and ideas about the guilt or innocence of his client.
According to the affidavits, the opinions and ideas were formed by reading articles in the Steamboat Today and by listening to radio broadcasts on KBCR.
According to a court file, alcohol was a factor that led to the alleged assaults.
Cumbie allegedly hit Wilson in the head with the blunt end of the hammer, the file shows. Wilson was treated at Yampa Valley Medical Center for a bump to the back of his head, a bruised eye and a bloody nose, the file shows.
When Wilding attempted to intervene, Cumbie allegedly bit her on the "forearm and shoved her away with his feet, causing her to fall against the wall," the file shows.