El Jebel man’ attempted murder charge draws scrutiny of judge
A district judge said Friday there is enough probable cause to charge an El Jebel man with attempted first-degree murder and other counts, but made critical remarks about a prosecutor’s documents that outline the offenses.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin intends to file eight criminal counts against El Jebel resident Jamie Lee Patton, 24, whom Aspen police arrested Thursday morning after he allegedly got in a car chase with his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend and her male companion. The male, 25, also told police that when he was outside of the vehicle Patton tried to run him over. The male, who was not injured, alleged he was grazed by Patton’s Jeep.
But Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols, during a hearing held in her chambers, contended that documents describing the pending charges against Patton failed to meet the criteria for two of the most serious charges he faces – attempted murder and attempted first-degree assault.
“Mr. Mordkin, these charges are all wrong,” said Nichols, offering her criticisms via telephone.
“You haven’t given me the correct elements at all,” she said, later telling Mordkin that if Patton “is inadequately advised, it’s your fault.”
A visibly shaken-up Patton, wearing shackles and handcuffs on his wrists and ankles, did not have an attorney at the hearing. He occasionally shook his head and wept when the judge read the charges and their accompanying penalties to him. The attempted murder charge is the most punitive count, carrying a mandatory prison sentence of 16 to 24 years with a conviction.
Mordkin, meanwhile, argued to the judge that the attempted murder charge is supported by the male accuser’s claim that Patton’s Jeep Cherokee grazed him. The grazing allegation, however, was not reported in the affidavit the District Attorney’s Office gave to Nichols.
“There’s no allegation he was even grazed,” she said. “That’s just not in there.”
Mordkin then responded: “If the vehicle had struck the victim we wouldn’t be talking about attempted murder.”
After the hearing, Mordkin said the attempted first-degree murder charge has merit.
“In this case, the difference between life and death is a millimeter,” he said.
Nichols set his bond at $20,000 at yesterday’s hearing; Mordkin had requested that it be $38,000. Patton left jail in the afternoon after posting bond.
“Thirty-eight thousand [dollars] is just not appropriate in this situation,” she said. “Although these charges [are serious], especially if the victim was grazed.”
Two local residents appeared at the advisement hearing to support Patton. Among them was his boss, Aspen restaurant owner Craig Cordts-Pearce. Cordts-Pearce told Nichols that Patton has been a model employee during his tenure as general manager of CP Burger restaurant, calling him “extremely hardworking.”
“I can vouch for this man through and through,” Cordts-Pearce said. “This young man works 80 to 100 hours a week and when I call him he is there. I can’t say enough good about this man.”
In addition to the attempted murder charge, Patton faces four other felonies: attempted assault in the first degree, felony menacing and two counts of stalking. There’s also a pending domestic violence count, along with misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief, harassment and driving a vehicle under restraint.
The allegations are outlined in a six-page affidavit written by Aspen Police Department investigator Walter Chi. The affidavit says that Patton was driving to Aspen on Friday morning when at approximately 9:15 he noticed his ex-girlfriend driving another vehicle about three cars ahead of him. This happened near the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport on Highway 82.
Patton then called her from his cellphone and told her to “call me back right away,” the affidavit says.
Later, Patton turned right on Owl Creek Road and made a U-turn so he could get back on Highway 82 and trail his ex. At one point Patton’s vehicle was just “inches from” the rear of the woman’s vehicle, the affidavit said.
When the woman arrived in Aspen, she drove up Red Mountain Road, as Patton “appeared to run several stop signs to keep his position directly behind her,” she told police as described in the affidavit.
The woman then stopped her vehicle on the side of Red Mountain Road about 50 yards before the turnoff for Willoughby Way. Patton pulled his vehicle up next to his former girlfriend’s and told her male-companion passenger to get out of the car and “fight him like a man,” the affidavit says.
Patton then drove away, but again made a U-turn, this time heading back toward the girl’s vehicle. It was at that time that prosecutors believe Patton attempted to kill the man.
“[The male] got out of his car and walked toward Patton’s vehicle and then attempted to talk to Patton. Patton accelerated his Jeep Cherokee and attempted to run Stewart over with his car,” the affidavit says, based on the girl’s statements. The girl also told police that Patton was driving 30 miles per hour, and at one point the male moved to the left to avoid being hit by the Jeep.
“[The male] then worried that he might die, jumped to the right, Patton swerved to his left in order to still hit [the male],” the affidavit says.
The male then got back in the woman’s vehicle. Patton subsequently threw what was believed to be a wrench at the girl’s car, denting its left rear door, the affidavit says.
The girl and her companion tried to call 911, and later turned around and headed toward the Aspen Police Station. When the girl turned onto North Galena Street toward the station, Patton continued eastbound on Main Street.
After the couple complained to authorities, Chi and detective Ian MacAyeal found and arrested Patton at CP Burger.
Chi later interviewed Patton at the Pitkin County Jail. There, Patton told Chi he had lived with the girl for six months at one time and they broke up in June. However, the two had remained in contact and a day earlier, on Wednesday, they had made arrangements to carpool to work. The girl later backed out of those plans, and when Patton saw her driving to Aspen on Thursday morning, he tried to find out who was her passenger.
Patton also admitted to Chi that he had followed the girl, but said that it was her male companion who jumped out of her vehicle and threw a punch at Patton’s Jeep’s window. Patton, however, admitted throwing a wrench at the car, but said he had “no desire” to fight the male, who is 25 years old.
Patton is due back in court Monday for further proceedings.
A protection order is in place that prohibits Patton from having any type of contact, either directly or indirectly, with the alleged victim. Judge Nichols implored him to avoid all types of communication with them.
“If there is even a hint that you or somebody else are in touch with them, then [your] bond will increase,” Nichols said.
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