Gregory Scott Gavin, a camper arrested in connection with the killing of Karl Kohler, indicated he will plead guilty to second-degree murder in the heat of passion, prosecutors confirmed Sunday.
Gavin, who is accused of beating Kohler to death with a baseball bat in May, reportedly waived his right to a preliminary hearing Friday and agreed to plead guilty to the murder charge. The plea deal will require him to make a statement about what happened the night of the murder, a stipulation that was important to Kohler's relatives.
"We reached this agreement in consultation with law enforcement and (Kohler's) family," Deputy District Attorney Scott Turner said.
Second-degree murder carries a penalty of up to life in prison.
Gavin's next court appearance is set for Sept. 12, when he is expected to officially plea guilty. He will be sentenced and give his statement to law enforcement at a later date.
It is not yet clear whether the statement will be made public.
Kohler, a local man who, like Gavin, made his home in the woods, was found bludgeoned to death near the Burro Trail Trailhead on Peak 9 by volunteers working in the area.
Gavin, 50, of no fixed address, was arrested June 8 and charged with second-degree murder and tampering with physical evidence. He is still in custody at the Summit County Jail.
"Based on physical evidence and confirmation from DNA lab analysis, we feel confident we have put together a solid case," undersheriff Derek Woodman said following the arrest.
Gavin has lived in Summit County for several years, authorities said, during which time he worked for local restaurants, but was predominantly unemployed.
He reportedly did not have a prior relationship with the victim.
A recently released arrest affidavit, which contained details of the discovery of Kohler's body and the subsequent investigation, did not indicate Gavin confessed to the murder.
The report shows he initially denied any involvement in the crime.
It was at Gavin's campsite that Kohler's body was found. The area was reportedly in disarray when the body was first spotted. One witness told authorities he thought a bear had torn apart the tent, according to the arrest affidavit.
"The pole was down, the tent was crashed," the witness was quoted as saying in the police report. "I see everything that would have been in the tent was outside of (the tent), like whoever was sleeping there was getting ready to pack and leave."
The man who had been sleeping there, Gavin, told police he had already left by that time. When brought in for questioning, he told investigators he'd abandoned that campsite - and his tent and personal belongings there - two weeks before Kohler's body was discovered and relocated to Copper Mountain, according to the affidavit.
He claimed he had been sleeping in the lobby of a lodging company near Copper, but authorities were unable to confirm that claim, the report stated.
During interviews with Summit County sheriff's deputies, Gavin said the police questions were making him nervous, and he accused them of manipulating him, according to the affidavit.
A woman who worked with Gavin at the thrift store while he volunteered told investigators he was a good person because he never tried to steal from the store. But another acquaintance of Gavin's told deputies he caused trouble in town, the report said.
Kohler's wallet was not on his body when investigators arrived on the scene. It was later found in a Dumpster nearby. A $100 bill was still in it, according to the affidavit
Gavin has been represented by a public defender.
"We will do whatever we can to ensure justice for the victim," Turner stated in a joint press release.
A longtime resident of Summit County, Kohler was well-known in the community.
His killing shocked and troubled locals, who remembered him as a music lover and gifted artist.