Bond set at half a million dollars for man at center of Tuesday standoff with police

Sky-Hi News staff report

The judge agreed with the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Thursday and set bail for a man who got into a standoff with police earlier this week at $500,000.

With the ruling, the judge decided that Stephen Branstetter, 41, poses a serious danger to the community. The decision comes in light of his most recent charges resulting from Tuesday’s standoff with police, in which Branstetter allegedly fired two gunshots at law enforcement. 

Branstetter appeared in court Thursday via video from the Grand County Jail for a bond hearing pertaining to two cases. Moffat County Judge Brittany Schneider stepped in to preside over the hearing.

One of the cases included a single count of second-degree attempted murder, which is a Class 2 felony, and a single count of refusing to leave the premises upon the request of a peace officer, which is a misdemeanor. The other case was in relation to a felony menacing charge that led to the standoff.

During the court hearing, Branstetter sat quietly with his head hung while he shook it back and forth in disagreement.

At the same time, the prosecutor argued for a $500,000 bond by citing “a pattern of escalating dangerous behavior,” adding that the most recent charges only prove Branstetter poses “an extreme danger to the community.”

The prosecutor also noted that Branstetter has been charged 10 times for failing to appear in court, many of them recent.

Branstetter was represented at the hearing by public defender Abby Kurtz-Phelan, who argued that her client’s bond was unconstitutionally high. She said Branstetter has lived in Hot Sulphur Springs for 15 years and owns his home there, as well as a business.

The defense attorney suggested that a lower amount would be more appropriate considering the charges. However, the judge disagreed.

“The court notes there is a pattern of escalating behavior,” Schneider responded after hearing both arguments. “The court is extremely concerned about community safety. The court finds that there is an extreme risk to the community from this escalating behavior, these threats for suicide by cop, the active use of controlled substances and the alleged act … of Mr. Branstetter barricading himself in the home and firing multiple shots at officers.”

With that, Branstetter’s bond was set at $500,000. In the second case that led to the standoff, his bond was set at $10,000.

Branstetter was previously arrested on Nov. 14 for allegedly eluding police officers, failing to appear in court and driving on a suspended license.

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