Capote pleads guilty in Steamboat
Sentencing on manslaughter charge scheduled for June 4
April 16, 2010
Steamboat Springs — Eduardo Capote entered his official guilty plea on a manslaughter charge Friday afternoon, ending the criminal prosecution resulting from a Jan. 1, 2009, fight in downtown Steamboat Springs that led to Richard Lopez's death.
Capote, who lives in Miami, began serving time Monday at the Routt County Jail and appeared in court handcuffed.
District Judge Shelley Hill said it's almost certain she will accept the deal reached between prosecutors and Capote's lawyers, but she said she wants a record check completed first.
The deal outlines that if Capote pleads guilty to manslaughter, he will agree to three years in jail. Capote originally was charged with more serious second-degree assault for the fight with Lopez, but after a weeklong trial in February, the jury deadlocked on that charge.
Capote and his brother, David Capote, also were charged with third-degree assault after being accused of fighting with Lopez's friends. The jury found them not guilty on those charges during the weeklong trial in February.
The case was set for a retrial in mid-May, but lawyers reached the agreement to avoid the retrial and so Eduardo Capote could avoid the longer jail sentence that would have been possible with a guilty verdict.
"It was a very painful decision for Eddie Capote and his family," Capote's attorney Charles Feldmann said at the end of March, when the deal was brokered.
Because the second-degree assault charge had a "crime of violence" rider, it also required jail time if Eduardo Capote was convicted.
"When you really sit down and figure out the true-life impacts, it allows him to move on with his life," Feldmann said. "Up to 16 years of real prison time (from the assault and crime of violence charges), that's hard to recover from."
The normal sentencing range for manslaughter is two to six years in most cases, and one to 12 years in exceptional cases. There is also a possible fine of $2,000 to $500,000, and a mandatory parole of three years.
The final sentencing is scheduled for 2 p.m. June 4.
Eduardo Capote also faces a possible civil lawsuit from Lopez's son. A family attorney said they are trying to reach a settlement before the case goes to court.