Man accepts plea deal in racial fight case
The Aspen Times
A black man charged with felony assault for punching a white man in a bar last spring who allegedly used a racial slur repeatedly toward him has agreed to a plea deal with the District Attorney’s Office.
Brandon Hines, 21, of Wisconsin will plead guilty to misdemeanor assault Dec. 18 and faces up to two years in jail, his lawyer, Ryan Kalamaya, said during a court hearing Monday.
The issue of any restitution due to Jim Andre, the local man hit by Hines, will remain open for the near future, and Kalamaya said he hopes to come to an agreement with Andre’s attorney soon.
An email sent Monday to Andre’s attorney in Wyoming seeking information about his current condition was not answered.
Prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz said the plea deal is based on each party’s assessment of the evidence in the case and risks of taking it to trial.
Hines was initially charged with misdemeanor assault in the case, which occurred at a Snowmass Village bar in April. That charge was upgraded to a felony in August based on the injuries suffered by Andre, Oszczakiewicz said then.
A third man involved in the case, Joshua Jones, was charged in August with misdemeanor bias-motivated harassment for allegedly making racist remarks to Hines and his two white friends in the bar. And while Snowmass Village Police reports quote witnesses as saying Andre also used the same racial slurs, he was not charged in the case.
A hearing on motions in Jones’ harassment case is scheduled for today.
Jones is also facing another count of harassment in an unrelated case in which he allegedly slapped another man’s rear end on a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus in July.
Andre allegedly approached Hines and his friends to defend Jones and made a racial remark that prompted Hines to punch him in the face, according to police reports. Andre collapsed to the floor after being punched, though it is unclear if he suffered the serious injuries as a result of that fall or the fact that he fell outside the bar several minutes later and hit his head on the concrete.
Kalamaya said he plans to argue at Hines’ sentencing that the second fall caused Andre’s serious bodily injuries.