Agreement reached in demo party case

Tentative sentences don't include jail time; felony charges dismissed

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— Two of the four men accused of causing significant damage to a rented Steamboat Springs home during an alleged demolition party agreed to tentative plea agreements Thursday.

Raymond Jay, 22, of Arizona, and Samuel Walsh, 21, of Fort Collins, pled guilty Thursday in Routt County Court to criminal mischief, a Class 2 misdemeanor. Felony charges were dismissed.

Police estimated the men caused more than $15,000 of damage to a home on Walton Creek Road in April by breaking windows, doors and appliances, and destroying carpet, walls and fixtures.

Jay and Walsh agreed to a tentative sentence of four years of supervised probation. Each will be ordered to pay $6,500 in restitution and complete 240 hours of community service. Attorney Larry Combs represented the pair.

The sentence is not final because District Judge Michael O'Hara requested a report and investigation by the probation department to determine whether he should accept the plea and if any additional terms and conditions of probation should be added.

"I don't think I have to tell you that this is awfully favorable to you both, given the charges that will be dismissed," O'Hara told the men.

If convicted on the felony criminal mischief charges, the defendants would have faced up to 12 years in prison and $750,000 in fines, in addition to an unknown amount of restitution.

The terms of the plea agreement were decided at a previous restorative justice hearing, which included a representative of the owner of the damaged property, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Heyl said.

If Jay or Walsh violate their supervised probation, they will face up to one year in jail on the misdemeanor charge. Because Jay lives out of state, he may be required to return to Colorado for the duration of his probation term, as Arizona can refuse to supervise him.

A third defendant, Michael Gatrell, 21, of Ohio, was in court Thursday, but his public defender, Trevor McFee, requested more time to speak with his client about the plea agreement. Gatrell is due back in court at 1 p.m. Nov. 29.

The final defendant is assigned to a different judge. Philip Hafner, 21, of Oregon is due in court for a pretrial conference Jan. 17. It is likely his case will not proceed to trial because he too is negotiating a plea agreement, Heyl said.

Jay and Walsh are due in court for final sentencing at 1 p.m. Feb. 1.

- To reach Melinda Dudley, call 871-4203

or e-mail mdudley@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

id04sp 7 years ago

So, what's the main difference between being a sex offender or wrecking someone's house?

When you wreck somebody's house, Mick makes you pay restitution as part of the plea bargain.

I feel safer, don't you?

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justathought 7 years ago

When you compare someone tearing up my home to a sexual predator I have to question your judgment. Making these young men pay restitution and do community service while on four years of probation sounds like a fair sentence for a crime against property. This is the type of criminal that actually deserves a second chance, keep them out of jail instead of allowing early release of violent criminals because of jail overcrowding. Don't let your obsession with the actions of a HOA blind you to the difference between a crime against property and a crime against ones person.

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id04sp 7 years ago

Justonedangedminute,

My point was that our local system is too lenient with sex offenders, DUIs, vehicular homicides, etc. The guys who will be paying for the damage to the house are getting more real punishment (restitution and community service) than sex offenders and people who cause deaths on the road. That's all.

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justathought 7 years ago

Then I stand corrected , three re-reads and I can see the sarcasm toward plea agreements and not the young men's sentences. Must have hit me the wrong way because I can usually pick up on that right away. I apologize.

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id04sp 7 years ago

Justa,

The thing is, in a real town, it wouldn't be this way. Why should anybody expect this kind of situation?

It's just all screwed up.

There seem to be certain attorneys who get better deals for their clients than others. Public defenders don't do so well. Others, who practiced law alongside our current judges, in some cases as partners in the same firm, appear to have better luck. So . . .

Is that because the old hands in the law biz know where the bodies are buried and have some extra "pull" with the judges?

Nah, that couldn't be it, could it?

Ever notice how certain names come up over and over defending drug cases so successfully?

We've got one attorney in town who was disbarred for, among other infractions, accepting illegal drugs in payment for legal services. He rehabilitated himself (so they say) and was reinstated several years later.

I can't imagine a situation where some attorneys used pot or cocaine while socializing with each other, can you? So, all these years later, if some of those folks happened to be appointed to the bench . . . .

Sure, this is pure speculation on my part, but sometimes you just have to wonder why things happen the way they do. When things don't make sense, there's usually a compelling reason.

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