MacLaird sentencing Monday
August 11, 2016
The nearly yearlong legal saga of Connor MacLaird will come to a close Monday August 15 when MacLaird appears in District Court before Judge Mary Hoak for formal sentencing proceedings.
MacLaird, who has already pleaded guilty to Attempted Assault in the First Degree, faces anywhere from five to 12 years in prison for his crime. MacLaird formally pleaded guilty to the charge as part a plea agreement signed earlier this year on May 31.
Before signing his plea agreement MacLaird was facing multiple charges stemming from an incident that occurred during the early morning hours of September 15, 2015. Those charges included: assault on a peace officer, burglary, theft and criminal mischief. The incident, initially reported as a burglary of the Snooty Coyote, resulted in Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin shooting MacLaird during the ensuing investigation of the crime scene area.
Schroetlin's use of force was later cleared by a Grand Jury that also brought four indictments against MacLaird. After signing the plea agreement for attempted assault in May all other charges MacLaird was facing, including those stemming from his alleged involvement in the burglary of the Snooty Coyote, were dropped.
SNOOTY COYOTE BREAK-IN
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The incident on September 15 last year started sometime around 1:26 a.m. when local law enforcement was called to Tabernash on reports of a burglary in progress at the Snooty Coyote Liquor Store. Upon arrival officers found the store broken into in an apparent, "smash and grab' type burglary", stated affidavits related to the case. The liquor store's front door glass had been broken in the process of the burglary.
The individual who reported the break-in to authorities also said the suspect fled the scene riding a bicycle. Shortly thereafter Officers located a bicycle on Grand County Road 523 that runs east/west directly behind the Fireside Inn in Tabernash, a short distance away from the Snooty Coyote across US Highway 40.
Cursory searches of the exterior of the Fireside Inn revealed blood in both the front and rear of Unit 2 of the motel as well as a duffle bag with blood on it that contained liquor bottles. At that time authorities determined exigent circumstances existed to enter Unit 2 of the Fireside Inn; entry of the unit was led by Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin.
USE OF FORCE
Affidavits from the case laid out the order of events as authorities entered Unit 2. Upon entry, "Sheriff Schroetlin heard a man say, 'What the (explicative)?' from the rear of the residence. Sheriff Schroetlin then observed a white male holding an elongated object in his hand. Sheriff Schroetlin then identified the elongated object as being a large knife. MacLaird kept advancing towards Sheriff Schroetlin with the knife raised in a threatening manner. Sheriff Schroetlin ordered the male party to drop the knife two times. The male did not comply and continued advancing towards Sheriff Schroetlin with the knife raised in his hand. Sheriff Schroetlin made the decision to fire his duty firearm at the male party striking the male party multiple times."
The affidavit goes on to state that when MacLaird was asked by responding paramedics what happened he told them, "suicide by cop". At the time MacLaird was transported to St. Anthony Hospital in Lakewood where he was treated for his injuries and later released before being taken into custody.
MacLaird, who was 20 at the time of the incident, has been working his way through the Court system since his arrest by Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputies on an unrelated warrant on October 4. He was held briefly in Jefferson County before being transported to the high country. While MacLaird's case was being heard in court he was held in the Routt County Jail in Steamboat Springs and was transported to Grand County for his court appearances. He has remained in custody during the proceedings.
The case was initially brought before a 14th Judicial District Grand Jury that reviewed both the break-in at the Snooty Coyote and the incident that occurred at the Fireside Inn. The Grand Jury cleared Sheriff Schroetlin's use of force on MacLaird finding, "Sheriff Schroetlin committed no criminal conduct in the September 15, 2015 incident in Tabernash, Colorado where he shot Connor James MacLaird as Mr. MacLaird allegedly rushed him with a knife."
Along with clearing Sheriff Schroetlin the Grand Jury also brought four indictments against MacLaird. The incident was referred to the Grand Jury by 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey. After Schroetlin was cleared of criminal conduct Barkey released a statement saying, "I referred this matter to our Grand Jury to ensure that our community, through its representatives on the Grand Jury, participated in decisions about this incident."
MacLaird's guilty plea on the assault charge comes with unique stipulations and is subject to sentencing as an "extraordinary risk" crime, a type of sentence enhancer. MacLaird is subject to a minimum five-year sentence with the Colorado Department of Corrections. Under the terms of the agreement there is a 12-year cap on a possible prison sentence for MacLaird.