Demo case dismissal requested

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— A Steamboat Springs attorney is asking the District Attorney's Office to dismiss charges against a 21-year-old man accused of destroying a Steamboat house during an alleged demolition party in April, claiming that the man is the victim in the case.

During a hearing in Routt County Court on Monday, Phillip Hafner of Oregon pleaded not guilty to Class 3 and Class 4 felony criminal mischief charges. The case was bound over to Routt County District Court for a four-day trial beginning at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 5. Hafner appeared in court by telephone.

Attorney Adam Mayo is representing Hafner. Mayo filed several motions with the court Monday, including a motion to dismiss the charges and a motion to change the trial's location because the case has received so much media attention.

Hafner and former roommates Michael Gatrell, 21, of Ohio; Samuel Walsh, 21, of Illinois; and Raymond Jay, 22, of Arizona, are facing the charges for allegedly throwing a demolition party at their Walton Creek Road home in April. Police estimate the men caused more than $15,000 worth of damage to the home by breaking windows, doors and appliances, and destroying carpet, walls and fixtures.

Mayo argued Tuesday that Hafner is the victim of the crime and therefore not "legally accountable for behavior of another."

"A victim of a crime can't be held responsible for a crime," he said. "Our theory is that Phil is the victim."

Mayo's motion states that, "(Hafner's) home was invaded by a mob of people. The mob proceeded to damage (the home)," and that, "(Hafner) was the victim of the mob's crime."

In addition to his motion to dismiss the case, Mayo filed a motion for a change of venue because the case has received considerable amounts of media attention.

"It's pretrial publicity that contains evidence that a jury might never hear in a courtroom but has already been put out there that casts a shadow of doubt on my client," he said. "It's tainted a potential jury pool."

Deputy District Attorney Andy Heyl said Tuesday he could not comment on Mayo's motions because he had not read them all.

"I'll be responding to them in the next couple of weeks," he said.

Jay and Gatrell already have pleaded not guilty to the charges they are facing. Their four-day trials are scheduled to begin in December and January, respectively.

Walsh is scheduled to appear in Routt County Court for an arraignment at 9 a.m. today. Walsh is being represented by Steamboat Springs Attorney Larry Combs.

-To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Jason Miller 6 years, 11 months ago

Yeah right your just an innocent victim in this whole mess.

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beentheredonethat 6 years, 11 months ago

If he really was being victimized, please explain why he did not call the police for help???

Truth is that friends of his came to his home and got out of control. He is responsible for the conduct of people in his home, period.

Jail time and a large fine remains appropriate, especially since he continues to reject being responsible.

Maybe after sitting in jail a few months he will begin to mature into an adult.

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mud 6 years, 11 months ago

Since we're all ready to convict and sentence based on the pilot stories, I'm guessing the case will be moved. maybe even reduced charges or dismissal in the long run.

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ringside 6 years, 11 months ago

I can't figure out why the police didn't show up when a home was being destroyed, that phone call wasn't made till later. the police would have been there, I guarentee you.
The town of Steamboat still doesn't know what they have on their hands and it will be replayed over and over again untill the city takes a stand about renters and landlords. I guarentee it will not be the only major incident played out there or in the other homes around town. Case dismissed untill the next time around. The city still hasn't fixed the problem. It will rear it's ugly head again I'd bet money on it.

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