Standoff suspect bound for trial
November 17, 2009
The suspect in an armed standoff near Winter Park Resort last Thanksgiving has been bound over for trial in District Court on five counts of attempted 1st degree murder and other charges.
The case against Brian Wilson, 53, of Denver, proceeded to trial after a two-hour preliminary hearing on Friday, Nov. 13, during which District Court Judge Mary Hoak ruled that there is sufficient evidence against Wilson to try him on the charges filed by the district attorney’s office.
Wilson is the suspect in an incident last Thanksgiving. Police say Wilson held them at bay with a loaded .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun for three hours while drinking heavily and threatening the officers with the gun in the middle of U.S. Highway 40 between the town of Winter Park and the resort.
“He (Wilson) reiterated over and over again that he was going to kill himself,” Fraser-Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor testified on Friday during questioning by District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham.
Trainor, who is among the alleged victims in the case and was the lead negotiator during the standoff on Nov. 27, 2008, said police were particularly concerned that night about Wilson being armed the .45 pistol. Trainor said the suspect had related to officers how he was a good shot and had participated in International Practical Shooting Competition events in which competitors shoot at targets in simulated combat scenarios.
Wilson’s .45 caliber Colt Combat Elite pistol was cocked and the safety was off, Trainor testified.
“It was ready to fire; all he had to do was pull the trigger.”
Trainor testified that Wilson later told police he had come to Grand County the previous night, which he spent in the woods “contemplating suicide.” He also said the suspect fired three or four rounds from his pistol that night while he was in the woods.
As the standoff progressed, Wilson got out of his vehicle and relieved himself in the middle of the highway, Trainor said, at which point Trainor said he offered Wilson a soda. Wilson, who Trainor said had been “drinking out of a tequila bottle this entire time,” indicated he would like the soda.
However, Trainor said that as he approached Wilson with the soft drink, “He told me that if I came any closer, I was going to be sorry.”
“I felt that the situation was becoming extremely dangerous to all involved,” Trainor said from the witness stand. It was then, he said, that he had an officer shoot Wilson with a non-lethal “beanbag” round from a 12-gauge shotgun, “at which point Mr. Wilson screamed and fell to the ground.”
In the ensuing scuffle, Trainor testified that Wilson fired four rounds from his pistol “indiscriminately,” endangering the lives of five officers, including himself.
The “indiscriminate” nature of the shooting is key, as it goes directly to one of the requirements to prove an attempted 1st degree murder charge – callous indifference to human life.
Wilson’s attorney, Daniel Deters, argued that prosecutors failed to demonstrate that sufficiently to bind Wilson over for trial.
At one point during his cross-examination of Trainor, Deters asked what the police chief would have done had he seen Wilson brandishing his gun after the suspect was shot with the beanbag round.
“If I had seen him with the gun and moving the gun,” Trainor testified, “I would have shot and killed him because that would have been very dangerous.”
In his summation, Deters said Wilson never intended to hurt anyone but himself.
“This was all about him killing himself,” Deters said. “It was never about him killing anyone else.”
Deters said no one could know what Wilson’s “you’ll be sorry” comment to Trainor meant, but that it was reasonable to interpret it as a threat to kill himself. Thus, he said, prosecutors did not meet their burden to try Wilson on the attempted murder charges.
Judge Hoak disagreed, pointing out that the hearing was merely a “screening device” to determine if the court had the right suspect and the right charges.
“There is no question Mr. Wilson (was) firing indiscriminately,” Hoak said, and that there was a grave risk of death to those nearby.
She emphasized that binding Wilson over to trial indicates only that there is probably cause to try him on the charges, not that he his guilty.
Wilson is scheduled to be arraigned at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23.
– Drew Munro can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19600 or firstname.lastname@example.org.