Defense: A plot against Wall

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Timeline

Oct. 27

Routt County Sheriff Gary Wall is pulled over by the Colorado State Patrol at Walton Creek Road and U.S. Highway 40 for an alleged failure to dim his headlights. He is subsequently cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. Wall was returning from a Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association celebration. The State Patrol revokes Wall's driver's license because he refuses any tests of his blood alcohol level. Wall later appeals the revocation and is issued a temporary license while awaiting a hearing with the Colorado Department of Revenue.

Oct. 28

Reached on his cell phone while returning from a World Series game in Denver, Wall denies the charges: "I did not consume anything that would have affected my ability to drive." Wall continues to affirm his innocence in the days following, but, shortly thereafter, refuses to discuss the charges any further. Wall and his lawyer, Steamboat Springs attorney Ron Smith, have not commented on the charges outside of the courtroom since.

Oct. 31

14th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James files a motion for appointment of special prosecutor, citing his office's close working relationship with the Routt County Sheriff's Office. The motion is later granted and Mark Hurlbert of the Fifth Judicial District is assigned the case. Hurlbert later assigns the case to one of his deputies, Karen Romeo.

Nov. 29

Romeo says she would rather reach a plea bargain with Wall than go to trial: "I'm not even sure we're going to go to trial. I would hope not. I think both sides would like to see it resolved. Trials bring an uncertain result."

Dec. 4

In Wall's first court appearance related to the drunken driving charges, the case is continued after both the prosecution and the defense say their investigations are not complete. Routt County Judge James Garrecht says he will eventually recuse himself from the case due to the court's close working relationship with the Sheriff's Office.

Dec. 19

Department of Revenue hearing officer Art Julian upholds the State Patrol's yearlong revocation of Wall's driver's license after a telephone hearing. In his decision and order, Julian writes that he found the troopers' testimony more credible than testimony delivered on Wall's behalf.

Jan. 16

Wall makes his second court appearance. Discussion focuses on Romeo's request for a change of venue because of what she called "massive, pervasive and prejudicial" publicity in Routt County. Smith confirms that he will oppose the motion, but asks that Garrecht not rule on it because he didn't receive a copy of it until just before the proceedings. The case is delayed again. Garrecht recuses himself from the case. Senior Judge Cecil Wayne Williams, a veteran of the Grand County bench, is later appointed to the case.

Jan. 18

Smith files an appeal of Julian's decision to uphold the State Patrol's revocation of Wall's drivers license.

Feb. 13

In a court hearing, Williams denies Romeo's motion to change venue: "I do not find them to be massive," Williams said of Steamboat Pilot & Today newspaper articles Romeo submitted as a supplement to her motion. "I do not find them to be pervasive. And I do not find them to be prejudicial."

March 4

In a telephone hearing, Smith says Wall is prepared to enter a plea in the criminal case, but all parties agree to reset that case to trail Wall's appeal of his license revocation.

April 29

Williams reaffirms Julian's decision to uphold the State Patrol's yearlong revocation of Wall's driver's license. Wall pleads innocent. A jury trial in the criminal case is set to begin July 14.

June 9

After a four-hour motions hearing, Williams denies two motions to suppress evidence made by the defense, which claimed there lacked reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop and probable cause for the arrest. Williams disagreed.

A disgruntled former deputy and a concerted effort by area law enforcement officers to frame Gary Wall led to the Routt County sheriff's arrest last year on suspicion that he drove under the influence of alcohol, defense attorney Ron Smith suggested Monday.

The official outcome of a four-hour motions hearing at the Routt County Justice Center on Monday was a continuation of Wall's losing streak in decisions related to the DUI charges. Senior Judge Cecil Wayne Williams denied two motions made by Smith to suppress evidence on claims Colorado State Patrol troopers lacked reasonable suspicion to pull Wall over and probable cause to arrest him the night of Oct. 27. Williams disagreed.

Regardless of Williams' ruling, Smith's cross-examination of troopers Melissa Fowler and Brett Hilling shed some light on the defense's strategy when Wall's criminal trial begins July 14. Smith repeatedly asked both troopers whether they had been in communication with former Sheriff's Office deputy Elise Andres, whose employment with the Sheriff's Office ended last year.

Andres ran the department's ElderWatch program, a statewide program that works to reduce financial exploitation and other crimes against senior citizens. The program was disbanded by Wall last year. In defense of that decision, Wall said in July that Andres' departure provided an opportunity to review the program and address accountability issues he was unwilling to specify. At that time, Wall said Andres resigned, but Smith referred to her departure as a "termination" Monday.

After an objection by prosecutor Anne Francis, Williams asked Smith how his line of questioning had any relevance to the legality of Wall's traffic stop or arrest. Smith said any contact with Andres between her termination and the traffic stop would affect the troopers' credibility. Both Fowler and Hilling said they knew Andres but denied having been contacted or tipped off by her the night of Oct. 27. Fowler confirmed that Andres' husband, Jim Hinton, was in the area of the traffic stop near Casey's Pond at U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road.

"I did see him during the contact," Fowler said. "I saw him taking pictures with his cell phone."

Fowler said she did not talk to Hinton or know how he came to be at the scene of the traffic stop. Reached at home Monday evening, Elise Andres declined comment.

"I don't want to be involved," she said.

Smith also asked Fowler, and subsequently Hilling, whether they had heard anything prior to the traffic stop about Wall driving drunk or there being a plot to "get him" for it.

"During his campaign, it had been talked about that he had been seen drinking and driving," said Fowler, referring to Wall's successful 2006 campaign to become the county's top law enforcement officer.

Fowler said she had never heard of any plot to bust Wall for such behavior. Hilling answered similarly.

"Several different people had mentioned to me that the sheriff drove drunk often," Hilling said. "It seemed to be common knowledge."

Hilling said some of those people included law enforcement officers but said he could not recall specific names. Hilling said he took the comments with a grain of salt, having been the victim of rumors himself.

Smith also asked Fowler and Hilling about their decisions to use cell phones rather than radios at some points during the traffic stop. Smith noted that there is no recording of their cell phone communications. Fowler said she chose to call the Routt County Sheriff's Office to request a senior officer with her cell phone to avoid humiliating Wall over the airwaves. Hilling said he used his cell phone to call his commanding officer, Capt. Brett Williams, who was in Denver, to request guidance.

Wall did not testify at Monday's hearing.

- To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

bcpow 6 years, 6 months ago

On the next episode of As the Boat Sinks......

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shadow 6 years, 6 months ago

Is Wall one of the bicycle cops I see riding on the sidewalk?

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weallnutz 6 years, 6 months ago

Knezevich is let go, Wall remains the Sherriff, whats in our water? Conspiracy theory, poor Gary everybody's picking on him....wait that was his excuse for all the times he was arrested before, poor guy just has a target tatooed on his back or something.

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Brian Smith 6 years, 6 months ago

I was just thinking the other day, I would love to see this trial on The People's Court, or Judge Judy, that would be a riot.

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flyguyrye 6 years, 6 months ago

I heard Andy Wirth asked Wall to ride a horse through town as his transportation. Wirth wants Wall to show the tourists we are still a western community. Smith uses this defense often defending guilty parties. It not me it the one armed man!

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Terry Noble 6 years, 6 months ago

I knew it was a plot! Probably part of the same "plot" that got him elected lmao! The things people won't do for revenge around here!

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Malcolm_Reynolds 6 years, 6 months ago

The Sheriff of Steamboat Springs Rides Again. How convenient that one of the State Troopers (or both) live in Hayden. Which he didn't win the voters blessing. But then again it's a long ride to Hayden.

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housepoor 6 years, 6 months ago

friend or foe, guilty or not, you have to admit Andres husband showing up at the scene smells fishy?

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steamboatyahoo 6 years, 6 months ago

if he hadn't been drinking and driving they couldn't accuse the police of framing him for driving drunk. If he hadn't been drinking he could have taken the breathalyzer test and gone home.

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steamboatcrazy 6 years, 6 months ago

I can't stop laughing..... thats our system... gotta love it. Gary will figure a way out of this....He always does!! You asked for it now you got it. Gary Wall!!

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Benny 6 years, 6 months ago

I would love to see those pictures that Andres' husband took. He should make a slide show and put it on youtube!!

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herman 6 years, 6 months ago

Conspiracy???? Did they hold him down and force him to drink? He admitted to drinking that night but says he was not over the legal limit. Thats fine but it is against the law to have a weapon when consuming any alcohol. How do you get out of that one. They planted the gun on him?

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bandmama 6 years, 6 months ago

Remember!!!!! He only had ONE drink..... in a gallon sized glass, and he was drugged too, remember? His judgement was impaired, that is why he refused the breath test... heck just dont understand why they didn't let him drive on home... I really hope the CHP officers involved are thinking slander and deflamation of charater.......... what a story!!!!

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shadow 6 years, 6 months ago

Remember he likely was drugged, that theory combined with the conspiracy theory is a perfectly logical reason for a judge to dismiss the case.

This sort of thing happens all the time.

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stmbtprof 6 years, 6 months ago

I have been at more than one private party where Wall pre sheriff and his gal jenny were drinking and then left driving...I refused to vote for him on hypocracy and choice of girlfriendwho I have seen be quite rude and the utimate in selfish narcissism...

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id04sp 6 years, 6 months ago

Herman,

It is NOT illegal to be in possession of a firearm while you are drinking. It IS unlawful to be intoxicated while in possession of a firearm. A person who is stopped on suspicion and blows less than .05 is allowed to go away free and clear, even if a weapon is in the vehicle or on the person's body for people with a concealed carry permit.

Okay, now, it is STUPID to drink while in possession of a firearm, but that's not a crime. Stupid is a way of life around here . . . . they couldn't process the plea bargains fast enough if stupid was a crime.

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7GENERATIONNATIVE 6 years, 6 months ago

SINCE WHEN IS DRINKING AND DRIVING AGAINST THE LAW FOR EVERYONE IN THE COUNTRY -- EXCEPT FOR THAT OF OUR LOVELY SHEIRFF? WALL NEEDS TO BE TREATED LIKE EVERYONE ELSE THAT HAS BEEN CONVICTED, SERVE TIME, DO COMMUNITY SERVICE, LOSE LICENSE, AND SPEND THOUSANDS ON CLASSES AND COURT FEES......YOU DO THE CRIME...YOU DO THE TIME.....................GROW UP WALL!!!

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ColoNative 6 years, 6 months ago

ID - again, you are wrong. The state staute says that it is illegal for a person to have in their possession a firearm while "under the influence of intoxicating liquor" or a controlled substance. Nowhere in the rules does it say that if a person blows less than a .05 do they get turned loose. A person can be less than .05 and still be under the influence. The .05 is a guideline for DUI, not possession of firearms, and is only a guideline.....!

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id04sp 6 years, 6 months ago

Native,

The only place in the statutes where there is a hard criteria for alcohol impairment is in the rules related to driving.

Theoretically, I am "under the influence of alcohol" when I drive to the store to buy beer, because beer is the reason that I am going to the store. If I gargle with mouthwash that contains alcohol, some of it is absorbed, so does that mean I'm "under the influence?"

Consumption of alcohol, taking controlled substances legally, etc., are all legal rights for adults. The language of the statute which says "under the influence of intoxicating liquor" does not prohibit consumption of alcohol. Pilots are prohibited from consuming alcohol within 8 hours of a flight under the Federal Air Regulations, and that's a hard requirement.

The FARs say "no alcohol at all." The Colorado gun statute says, "while under the influence of intoxicating liquor." There's a huge difference between "under the influence" and "zero."

I think the problem a lot of people are having is that they have no concept of drinking alcohol unless they plan to get wasted. I was approached by a guy in one of the local markets while I was buying a six pack of beer, and he told me that I was buying "3.2" beer. He said I should go next door to the liquor store and buy the "real stuff." When I explained to him that I was not buying the beer to get drunk, I got a "trout look" like you read about. He had no idea that a person might simply prefer the taste of beer to some other beverage, and the alcohol content was not my reason for buying the stuff.

So, maybe the problem is that the sociological aspects of alcohol consumption in a town populated by air-headed substance abusers prevents people from understanding that a single drink taken with food over a long enough period of time does not equal "intoxication." For the record, I don't drive at ALL when I've had anything to drink, because I know that any alcohol content at all has some effect on reflexes and perception, just like taking a Contac, Xyrtec or even aspirin.

It seems to me that, without BAC evidence to support a charge of "intoxication," this is just a loophole that allows police and DAs to go after someone because they can't do anything else. It's like trying Martha Stewart for lying to investigators after they found out she hadn't broken any other laws, but they wanted to bust her for SOMETHING because she deserved it.

And that's what's happening to Gary Wall; the CSP thinks he deserves it, and so does the DA, so they're trying him on a gun charge with no chemical evidence to support it -- because they KNOW he was not intoxicated, but they're going to "get him" anyway.

This one will come down to what the jury decides. The CSP had cause under the law to obtain a BAC level as evidence on the GUN charge, and they blew it. Heh, heh, ... "blew it."

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bandmama 6 years, 6 months ago

Hold it ID!!!!!! You are forgetting that he wasn't under the influence of drink... remember, he was slipped a roofie. Now, come on, at least admit that regardless of THE reason, his reasoning skills WERE impaired by something, roofie, drink, stupidity.....whatever, under the circumstances he should not have been driving, and he maybe should not have had that little gun on him/with him. Also, while I do respect your decision not to drink and drive, were you not the one who suggested that a small taste of spirits inhanced ones ability to hit a target?????? Perhaps Gary was just making sure he could aim properly....

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