Citing new evidence that came to light late last week, the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday dropped criminal charges against Nancy Styler, one of three people arrested in the murder of Aspen native Nancy Pfister.
Authorities arrested Nancy Styler, 62, and her husband, William Styler, 66, at the Aspenalt Lodge in Basalt on March 3. Both have been held in separate jails, without bond, since their arrests. The Front Range couple were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and accessory after the fact to murder in connection with Pfister’s death. An Aspen resident, Katherine Carpenter, 56, was arrested March 14 and faces the same charges.
Reached for comment late Tuesday afternoon, prosecutor Andrea Bryan would not discuss the new evidence that led to the dismissal of charges against Nancy Styler.
“With the new information received and a lack of other evidence refuting the new information, the District Attorney could not prove that Ms. Styler was involved in the crimes,” a 5 p.m. press release from District Attorney Sherry Caloia said. “She will be released from jail immediately.”
Nancy Styler has been held in the Eagle County Jail since shortly after her arrest. She was expected to be brought to the Pitkin County Jail sometime Tuesday for a formal release procedure.
William Styler and Carpenter remain in custody. A status hearing in William Styler’s case is scheduled for Friday morning in Pitkin County District Court.
Beth Krulewitch, one of two attorneys representing Nancy Styler, did not return a reporter’s message left on her cellphone voice mail Tuesday evening. During a March court hearing, Krulewitch said in open court that the evidence against her client was “razor thin,” without elaborating.
Pfister was 57 at the time of her death. She had been renting her West Buttermilk home to the Stylers late last year and early this year while vacationing in Australia. She returned in late February, and her body was found in a closet at her home on Feb. 26. A brief coroner’s report states that she was the victim of homicide as a result of blunt force trauma. On her Facebook page, Pfister had complained that the Stylers had not been paying rent.
Carpenter, a longtime local bank teller, had served as a personal assistant to Pfister in recent years and helped her to rent out the home. Authorities have not publicly offered a motive in the case or explained what led them to arrest the Stylers and Carpenter. The affidavits in support of the arrest warrants remain sealed, although Judge Gail Nichols recently unsealed some of the other documents in the defendants’ files, mostly responses to motions filed by defense attorneys.
A preliminary hearing for William Styler and Katherine Carpenter is scheduled for June 25, 27 and 30 and July 2.
Pfister’s daughter, Juliana, was seen leaving the courthouse at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday. She was present for the brief court hearing at 4:30 p.m. to officially dismiss the charges.
“I don’t want to talk to anyone right now,” Juliana Pfister said as she left the courthouse following a private meeting with Bryan.