Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Steamboat Springs September 6, 2006
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
RE: People v. David Siller, case no. 06CR110
People v. Giles Charle, case no. 06CR111
I write this letter to you after much deliberation. As you are aware, you and I negotiated a disposition in the above styled cases at arm's length. Your clients knew the facts available to the State and evaluated the risks of the State being able to prove these facts. They decided to avoid a potential felony burglary conviction at trial by choosing between two negotiated options: one a deferred felony, guaranteeing them a dismissal of the felony charge in two years if they kept out of trouble; and the other a misdemeanor conviction with six months in jail (108 days with good time credit). After consulting a number of lawyers and reviewing the facts of the case they chose to settle their cases rather than to plead not guilty and require the State to present its facts to twelve citizens of the community.
Your clients stood before Judge Garrecht and were asked if they knowingly and intelligently were pleading guilty to trespass. They told the judge that they were. Judge Garrecht asked them if they were being coerced or forced to enter pleas of guilty and they told him that they were not. Judge Garrecht had the authority to reject the negotiated settlement if he believed that the disposition was unfair. He did not.
Subsequent to the entry of their pleas and sentencing, the victim in this case has come forward and indicated that, although your clients entered the store, the produce that they took was of no value. This new information is directly contrary to one of the shop owners verbal and written statements that her examination of the produce revealed it was fresh and that she valued what they took at $15 retail. One of the owners has now publicly stated that the notoriety that this case has received has hurt his business and caused him to lose money. He wants it to be publicly known now that, contrary to their initial request for vigorous prosecution, they do not now want to have anything to do with this case.
As you know, this case has received great media coverage. The bulk of it was one sided and portrayed this as an instance in which two hungry men removed spoiled food from a dumpster. This is contrary to what one of the victims told the police and wrote in her own words. It is contrary to what an independent eyewitness saw and it is contrary to what the circumstantial physical evidence shows. Nevertheless, it is what a portion of the public believes and that belief is being fueled by the victims desire now to distance themselves from the case and to ensure that their business does not suffer. I cannot review the facts available to the State with every member of the public. I cannot review the facts available to the State with every member of the public. You and other lawyers did so with your clients and they made a decision based upon those available facts.
It does now, however, appear that based upon incomplete and incorrect information a portion of the community has committed to a view of this case and its outcome. My office will not be able to change this misperception. It is clear this portion of the community reacting to that misinformation wishes a different outcome. Parenthetically, I would note that now that all of the information contained in the police investigation has become available, many people who disagreed with the disposition now believe it was appropriate. While my office continues to persist in its contention that this was a burglary case and that your clients unlawfully entered the interior of the store we are willing to compromise our position and hope that the message still remains that it is unacceptable to burglarize a local business. As such, we will agree to a stipulated reduction of sentence in these two cases to the time that the defendants have served in the Routt County Jail. I have prepared a stipulation reflecting this agreement. Please let me know when you are available to sign it and present it to the Court.
Kerry St. James
Assistant District Attorney