Man pleads guilty to bias-motivated attack in Basalt

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Jerry L. Cunico
Eagle County Jail |

An Old Snowmass man pleaded guilty Monday in Eagle County District Court to second-degree assault and bias-motivated crime causing bodily injury in an August incident that Basalt police said was an unprovoked ethnic attack.

Jerry Lloyd Cunico, 47, will be sentenced Jan. 11. A felony charge of trespass 1, automobile, with the intent to a commit a crime, was dropped by the District Attorney’s Office as part of a disposition agreement.

Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan said a sentencing concession also was part of the agreement. The second-degree assault charge could have carried a mandatory sentence of five to 16 years in state prison. The District Attorney’s Office agreed to reduce the recommendation to two to eight years, Kirwan said.

Cunico was arrested Aug. 23 after he opened the car door of the victim and started punching him, according to a Basalt police report. The man was sitting in his car scratching lottery tickets in the Orchard Plaza area outside of the El Jebel City Market when the attack was launched, police said.

The victim was struck several times in the face and suffered fractures to facial bones, the report said. Cunico allegedly yelled obscenities about President Barack Obama and said that “Mexicans” should go home, according to the report. Several witnesses restrained Cunico until police arrived, the report said.

The investigation by police didn’t show any link between the two men, according to Basalt Police Chief Greg Knott.

The victim has returned to work in the construction industry, but he is still receiving medical treatment for his injuries, according to Kirwan.

The reason for the attack remains unknown.

“I don’t know what was in the gentleman’s mind when he did this,” Kirwan said.

In his first court appearance, Cunico said he was defending himself at the time of the incident, according to Kirwan. Cunico hasn’t said anything in court appearances since he has been represented attorney Terry O’Connor.

O’Connor couldn’t be reached after Monday’s court hearing.

Cunico has been in custody at Eagle County Jail since the incident.

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