Suspect in Winter Park standoff faces attempted murder charges
September 29, 2009
In the wake of District Court Judge Mary Hoak rejecting a plea agreement, charges have escalated against the man accused of instigating an armed standoff with police in Winter Park last Thanksgiving.
On Friday, Sept. 25, the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office filed an amended complaint against Brian Wilson that now includes five counts of attempted 1st degree murder as well as sentence enhancers on each count.
District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham said in a telephone interview on Tuesday that she met last week with officers involved in the incident and reassessed the charges.
“It appears that the attempted first degree (murder charge) fits better than the assault” charge, she said.
Oldham said the attempted murder charge requires the defendant to have demonstrated callous indifference to human life rather than intent to cause serious bodily injury as required by the original assault charges. And that, she said, better conforms to the circumstances of the case than the assault charges.
Each attempted-murder count, without the sentence enhancers, carries a presumptive minimum sentence of 8 years in prison and a $5,000 fine and a presumptive maximum of 24 years in prison with a $1 million fine.
Oldham said the sentence enhancers, if applied, require a sentence at least midway between the minimum and maximum presumptive sentences.
Wilson, 52, of Denver, is the suspect in an incident last Thanksgiving during which police say he 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.
The standoff ended when police shot Wilson with a non-lethal “beanbag” round from a shotgun, which knocked him to the ground, according to the affidavit for Wilson’s arrest. During the ensuing struggle to apprehend the suspect, the affidavit says Wilson “indiscriminately” discharged four rounds from the pistol.
Originally, Wilson was charged with three counts of 1st degree assault, three counts of menacing, two counts of obstructing a police officer, three counts of prohibited use of a weapon, and one count each of obstructing a highway, driving under the influence, and DUI per se.
The deal Hoak rejected in late June would have entailed one count of felony menacing – with a knife, with a recommendation by the DA’s office that Wilson be sentenced to no more than three years in the Department of Corrections.
In the amended complaint filed by the DA’s office on Friday, Wilson is charged with five counts of attempted 1st degree murder, six counts of felony menacing, two counts of obstructing a police officer, three counts of prohibited use of a weapon, one count each of obstructing a highway, driving under the influence, DUI per se, and five sentence enhancers for committing crimes of violence.
Oldham said it is not unusual for authorities to revisit charges in cases such as this when a proposed plea deal is rejected.
“I believe it was a very rational decision,” she said of Hoak’s rejection of the plea deal. “That rejection compelled my reassessment of the case.”
The amended charges allege that Wilson attempted to cause the death of Sean Curran, Roy Yberra, Glen Trainor and Brett Schroetlin, all of the Fraser-Winter Park Police Department, as well as Colorado State Patrol Trooper James Proctor.
Police Chief Trainor, who was present at Friday’s hearing, indicated afterwards that he thought the new charges are more appropriate given the facts of the case.
Wilson’s attorney Lee Harrell objected to the filing of the amended charges during Friday’s hearing. After a brief exchange, Hoak overruled the objection and accepted the filing of the amended charges.
Harrell said he had discussed the case with Wilson’s lead attorney, Harvey Steinberg, who told Harrell he intends to file a motion regarding Hoak’s ruling on the original plea deal because there had been talk about making that plea include a gun rather than a knife.
One of the reasons Hoak cited in her rejection of the proposed plea deal was that because no knife was involved in the incident, there was no factual basis for the plea agreement.
Steinberg did not return a telephone call on Tuesday.
Hoak set deadlines for the filing of defense and prosecution motions, all of which are to be filed prior to a preliminary hearing on the amended charges set for 2 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 26.
As part of the rejected plea deal, Wilson waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the charges that were not amended.