Judge to drive to Denver to advise Lesyshen of charges in murder case
July 10, 2013
Steamboat Springs — Fourteenth Judicial District Chief Judge Michael O'Hara plans to drive to a Denver hospital Friday to advise Lisa Lesyshen of the charges against her, which include first-degree murder related to the shooting of her 9-year-old son.
O'Hara met with attorneys Wednesday during an impromptu hearing to discuss numerous issues in the case, including how to proceed.
After allegedly shooting her only son, Asher Lesyshen-Kirlan, five times in the early hours of May 29 at their Stagecoach home, investigators say Lesyshen shot herself in the neck area. Now paralyzed, Lesyshen is receiving treatment at the a jail-like facility inside Denver Health Medical Center.
The Routt County Sheriff's Office has stated in court documents that Lesyshen confessed to shooting her son. She is in the custody of the Sheriff's Office, and it is unclear when she might be well enough to be transferred to another facility or Routt County. According to Routt County District Attorney Brett Barkey, the Sheriff's Office is checking on Lesyshen's condition two times each day.
"Our understanding is that she is extraordinarily limited," Barkey said.
Her medical condition has created sometimes complicated issues that those involved with the case have had to work through such as how to advise Lesyshen of the charges against her without an unnecessary delay.
"It's obviously a little bit unusual," O'Hara said.
Public defenders representing Lesyshen do not mind any delays.
"We are not in a rush — so the court knows — to get things moving," public defender M. Scott Troxell said.
O'Hara said that at some point, they would have to come up with ways of dealing with the case.
"I can't imagine trying to conduct a jury trial in a hospital room," O'Hara said.
In addition to first-degree murder, Lesyshen has been charged with child abuse and two sentence enhancers that could lengthen the term of any sentence.
During the hearing Wednesday, O'Hara reviewed several motions, and signed an order that investigators not destroy any of their notes related to the case.
O'Hara also ruled on a request from Lesyshen's attorneys that asked for three officials to pay $1,000 as a punishment for violating Lesyshen's right to confidential communications with her attorneys.
"The court is going to decline to levy fines against anyone for what may very well have been a violation” of the statute, O'Hara said.
The three officials named were Barkey, Chief Deputy District Attorney Rusty Prindle and Undersheriff Ray Birch.
Birch acknowledged last week that for a nine-day period while Lesyshen was being treated in the nonsecure part of the hospital, attorneys were allowed to visit Lesyshen only while a guard was present in the room. O'Hara expressed some concern with the decision that a guard must remain in the room during visits with attorneys.
"There is no such thing as constitutional access to counsel in the presence of a third party," O'Hara said.
Barkey argued Lesyshen was homicidal and suicidal and keeping the guard in the room was paramount to her security. Barkey said the hospital chose to move Lesyshen back to the secure area when her husband, Michael Kirlan, came to the hospital.
"The hospital said, 'That's enough,'" Barkey said. "The hospital was totally uncomfortable leaving her in the unsecured area after that visit."
Charles Feldmann, who is representing Kirlan as a victim's advocate, said Wednesday that Kirlan did not go to the hospital to visit Lesyshen. Rather, Kirlan went to drop things off for Lesyshen that had been requested through her parents.
"All he was doing was dropping off some of her personal effects, not attempting to contact her," Feldmann said.
To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com