BRECKENRIDGE - Gregory Scott Gavin submitted a guilty plea to the charge of second-degree murder, heat of passion, in court Wednesday for the killing of Karl Kohler in May.
The charge, a Class III felony, carries a presumptive penalty of four to 12 years in prison.
In court, prosecutors said Gavin killed Kohler by beating him on the head and body with a baseball bat. The defense attorney added that the heat of passion classification stemmed from the fact that Kohler arrived at Gavin's campsite unannounced and an altercation occurred.
Gavin is required to make a statement to law enforcement explaining what happened the night of the murder as a condition of the plea agreement.
A sentencing hearing is set for Nov. 15.
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, 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.
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."
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.