Demo case dismissal requested | SteamboatToday.com

Demo case dismissal requested

Alexis DeLaCruz

Steamboat Springs — 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. — 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.

— 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.”

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“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