Sex assault suspect's bond unchanged

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A Routt County Court judge on Wednesday refused to lower the bond of a 23-year-old man accused of sexual assault.

Judge James Garrecht said that he would not second-guess District Judge Michael O'Hara's decision to set the bond at $50,000.

The suspect is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl on April 6.

The man is a resident of the West African country of Mauritania, which complicated his court hearing Wednesday.

An interpreter assisted the man by phone, but the man told the court that the interpreter spoke a dialect unfamiliar to him.

Mauritania's official languages are Arabic and French, although many residents speak the Arabic dialects of Soninke, Pulaar and Wolof.

Despite the language barriers, the man's attorneys, public defenders Sheryl Uhlmann and Emily Wickham, asked Garrecht to consider lowering the man's bond to $5,000 based on his ties to the community and his employment status.

Several of the man's friends appeared at the hearing. One tried to interpret on his behalf. "His friends would help him post his bond, they would assure his return to court," Wickham said.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James opposed Wick--ham's request, saying he did not have notice she was going to address bond and did not notify the alleged victim in the case.

Garrecht said that because of the severity of the case and because the man has lived in Colorado for a short time, he would not reduce bond. Garrecht said he would try to keep the case moving swiftly.

After Garrecht's ruling, Uhlmann asked Garrecht to set a date when counsel could address a preliminary hearing. Uhlmann told the court her client would need an interpreter he could "absolutely understand" at that time.

The man is scheduled to appear in court at 1 p.m. April 21.

A 23-year-old Steamboat Springs man accused of breaking into a man's home, stealing $300 and stabbing him in the hand is expected to plead guilty to two felonies, his attorney said Wednesday.

Jared Dean Justice was arrested in February on suspicion of first-degree assault, first-degree burglary and aggravated robbery after he and 19-year-old Caled Edward Murphy allegedly broke into a man's trailer home, stole some money and stabbed the man in the hand during an altercation.

Public defender Trevor McFee told Routt County Court Judge James Garrecht that Justice is prepared to plead guilty to two Class 4 felonies. McFee asked that Justice's case be bound over to District Court and that he be given another month to work on details of a plea agreement.

Justice is scheduled to appear before District Judge Paul McLimans at 1 p.m. May 30.

-- Pilot & Today staff

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