Steven Torres reacts Wednesday after learning he had been acquitted of three attempted murder charges.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steven Torres reacts Wednesday after learning he had been acquitted of three attempted murder charges.

Man acquitted of attempted murder charges in Steamboat Springs

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— In a clear victory for the Routt County Public Defender’s Office, Steven Torres no longer has to fear spending the rest of his life in prison.

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Steven Torres

After hearing three days of testimony, a Routt County jury acquitted Torres of three counts of attempted first-degree murder and illegally discharging a firearm. Instead, the jury found Torres guilty of felony menacing and three counts of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

“Thank you so much,” Torres said to Public Defender Sheryl Uhlmann after the verdict was read by Judge Shelley Hill.

Uhlmann declined to comment about the verdict.

Whether Torres fired a single gunshot into a downtown Steamboat Springs bar on the evening of June 8, 2012, was not disputed, but lawyers disagreed on why Torres fired the shot.

Prosecutors argued it was a shot to kill. The defense said it was a shot to scare.

One attempted murder charge was filed for each of the bar employees who were in the area where the bullet struck the floor.

Torres looked relieved after the verdict was announced.

If Torres had been found guilty of all three attempted murder charges and the jury had determined it was a crime of violence, Torres would have faced a minimum of 48 years and a maximum of 144 years in prison.

Each of the three Class 3 misdemeanors of which Torres was found guilty carry a minimum of a $50 fine and a maximum sentence of six months in jail.

The Class 5 felony menacing charge carries a presumptive sentence of one to three years in prison.

Given the presumptive sentences, Torres in total could face as many as 4 1/2 years of incarceration.

“Although we are deeply disappointed with the result, we appreciate the service of the jurors and respect their decision in the case,” Brett Barkey said in a news release.

Barkey would not discuss what, if any, plea deals had been offered to Torres before the case went to trial.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate to discuss plea negotiations about specific cases in public since such discussions are not admissible in court under Colorado law,” Barkey wrote in an email.

Steamboat Springs Police Department Chief Joel Rae wrote in an email that he appreciated the attentiveness, time and consideration of the jury and its decision.

“As a police department, we will debrief this case with the District Attorney’s Office, try to identify any weaknesses, and we will take away any lessons learned moving forward," he wrote.

Judge Hill ordered the probation department to do a standard investigation on Torres before he is sentenced Dec. 12. The investigation will look into Torres’ past, and the probation department could recommend a sentence.

When leaving the Routt County Justice Center, jurors Bob White and Peter Rouslin said the District Attorney’s Office failed to prove the attempted murder charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Those charges seemed a bit steep to begin with,” Rouslin said.

Both men talked highly about their experience being jurors and praised the professionalism of Judge Hill.

“All 12 of us thought Judge Hill did a remarkable job,” White said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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Comments

carolina manriquez 11 months ago

i'm not sure why the journalist has to take sides, for the DA or the PDO. a trial is about justice, not about what side wins. in this case, justice prevailed. i'm not sure either why the journalist chose not to report on the most important fact/testimony of the whole trial, from the hostess, for which the DA had filed one of the attempted murder charges. she stated that she never felt threatened by mr. torres. we need journalists that can report all the facts of the stories happening in our community and not just take sides.

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Scott Wedel 11 months ago

So the DA's twin policies of overcharging suspects and refusing plea deals on felony charges has resulted in a jury trial that acquitted the most serious charges and convicted on the charges never denied by the defense.

So the trial was a waste of money and shows defendants that they should go to trial instead of accepting harsh plea deals.

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rhys jones 11 months ago

Even 4-1/2 years is a LONG time for one bonehead move in which nobody was harmed.

This guy needs anger management, not incarceration. That will only exacerbate everybody's problem -- Mr. Torres' anger, and our strained budget.

Mr. Barkey seeks convictions, not justice. It's all a big game to him, and if there's any crime here, it's how much we pay him.

Justice is served.

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jerry carlton 11 months ago

Will someone explain why he was found innocent of illegaly discharging a firearm?

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rhys jones 11 months ago

You're right, Jerry, that's probably the most relevant charge. I'm still trying to figure out how he could attempt to murder three people with one shot. Felony menacing is the appropriate charge, and that with which he was convicted. I'm thinking six months is plenty of time for that, and after that results become counterproductive.

I was switching between Series and Nuggets last night, and while I remain optimistic, even Hastings and Marlowe were saying this is a "rebuilding year" so maybe you won't be missing much in Havasu.

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Matt Stensland 11 months ago

Here is the definition of illegal discharge of a firearm: Any person who knowingly or recklessly discharges a firearm into any dwelling or other building, occupied structure, or occupied motor vehicle.

It was argued Torres could not have fired into the building because he was technically in the building, inside the front door.

Matt Stensland Reporter/Photographer Steamboat Pilot & Today

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rhys jones 11 months ago

Matt -- So it's legal to discharge a firearm indoors, just not outside... nice!! That probably explains why the cops didn't mess with us, sighting our rifles in, in the basement... I could nail a fly from ten yards, between the eyes, in flight... and here we thought that was a crime.

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David Moore 11 months ago

This is about as interesting as the guy here in Craig who could not reach his wife, lied to his co-workers and left work, went home to get a butcher knife. He then confronted his wife and her lover, proceeded to stab him repeatedly until he was dead while telling him that " I told you to stay away from my wife", then after the victim is down, kicks him in the head and puts the knife to the throat of his wife. He had confessed that he wanted his wife's lover dead and told the guy he killed repeatedly on Facebook that he would kill him. This guy gets second degree murder and menacing with a deadly weapon. Am I wrong or is this premeditated murder plain and simple? This guy in Steamboat shoots down a stairway potentially harming or killing someone and gets off relatively scott free. Is it me and my lack of knowledge of law or is there something underhanded going on in this district? Two rather confusing outcomes to two pretty solid cases that I certainly would have been locked up and forgotten about. Who are these people?

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jerry carlton 11 months ago

Matt Thanks for explanation. I just went back and read earlier story that said after being excorted out of bar, he fired back down the stairs into the bar. Guess the jury did not believe that version.

Carolina Are you this guys cousin?

Rhys Nuggies looked good for 3 quarters but collapsed in the fourth. I liked Georges run and gun but I was upset when Dan Issel was fired. That was a while back. Are you packing now when you go to Carls? Looks like downtown Steamboat has been declared an open fire zone.

David Hand wringing liberals have taken over juries like they have the rest of the country. If your momma did not hug you enough, it is ok to shoot into an occupied building or stab to death a guy that is having an affair with your wife. I am not eligible to be on a criminal jury as I once worked as a corrections officer in a county jail.

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rhys jones 11 months ago

Jerry -- I liked George too, but he never made it out of the first playoff round. I can't pinpoint the problem, whether he didn't instill that killer instinct, his sidelines demeanor was sedated, or he just went with the wrong combos, favoring his white guys. Gallo is okay, but I don't think he rates the minutes he got. They picked up some good veteran talent in the off-season, and I'll give the new guy a chance, not willing to write the year off just yet, it hasn't even started.

Nope, no guns, and it's scary to think of the kooks and self-styled Dirty Harry's packing -- one and the same, in my book. We ARE reviving the Target Parties though, now that they have been found legal.

They won't let me on a jury either, although for entirely different reasons; I'm on the Don't Call list.

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