Man charged with 24 counts of arson heads to trial
A man with a history of inappropriately burning slash piles pleaded not guilty on several arson charges in Grand County District Court, sending the case to a five-day trial.
On Thursday, Christopher Linsmayer, 68, pleaded not guilty to 12 counts of felony arson and 12 counts of misdemeanor arson, telling Judge Mary Hoak the charges have kept him up at night.
“Only exhaustion from the lack of sleep from the worry of this situation,” Linsmayer responded to the routine question of whether he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol. “I don’t even have $100 of damage to my property.”
Linsmayer was charged in November after emergency crews responded to his home Oct. 27 for 12 slash piles with four actively burning. Police said firefighters had to hike into the property because snow blocked a fire engine from getting in. The firefighters put out the slash piles using snow and hand tools over the course of two days to ensure they were extinguished.
Linsmayer was not on the property at the time of the response, according to police.
The slash piles were burned with the county under a Stage 2 fire ban, just days after the East Troublesome Fire exploded over 100,000 acres in Grand County.
With Linsmayer pleading not guilty, Hoak scheduled the trial across five days starting Oct. 25. Linsmayer’s attorney Jack Dicola indicated they may file for a change of venue, which would move the court proceedings to a different district while maintaining the judge.
Dicola has until June 14 to file a motion for a change of venue.
Linsmayer is next scheduled to be in court on Aug. 26 for a pre-trial motions hearing.
In February 2020, Linsmayer pleaded guilty to two county ordinance violations regarding burn permits for an August incident in which he burned a slash pile out of season on a Red Flag warning day. He was sentenced to pay roughly $1,500 in fines and a $1,000 donation to Mountain Family Center or victim restitution.
Linsmayer has also been tied to the 2016 Gore Ridge Fire, which started on Linsmayer’s property and burned around 10 acres, spreading to a neighboring property and causing over $100,000 in damage.
An investigation into the Gore Ridge Fire revealed that Linsmayer had burned three or four slash piles that were larger than allowed by ordinance. Linsmayer was not cited for the wildfire, but he agreed to pay Grand County roughly $190,000 for fire suppression efforts and restitution to his neighbor, Henry Meier.
According to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Linsmayer was also cited for a county ordinance violation on Nov. 1, 2016 and other reports of inappropriate burning were filed on April 7, 2017, and on Sept. 16, 2017, but Linsmayer was not cited.
Linsmayer is husband to Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.
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The Grand County Sheriff’s Office fielded 228 calls from Aug. 29-Sept. 4 while dispatchers answered 496 calls for all first-responder agencies in the county.