BRECKENRIDGE - A local man accused of attempting to kill his wife with a hatchet last month waived his right to a preliminary hearing Tuesday, a condition of a plea agreement prosecutors put forward.
Dillon Valley East resident Michael Newcomb, 43, hasn't yet taken the plea offer, which would involve waiving an attempted murder charge in favor of a single count of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, but he did leave the door open to cut a deal in the future.
Newcomb is currently being held at the Summit County Jail on a $7,500 bond. He's facing charges of attempted murder and two counts of felony menacing in addition to a single count of second-degree assault.
"The charges are very serious, and, if convicted the accused would mandatorily go to prison," District Attorney Bruce Brown stated in an initial release on the incident.
During a preliminary hearing the prosecutor is required to present evidence establishing the charges against the accused.
But the defense appeared interested in preserving the pool of jurors in the community in the event of a jury trial, which would not happen if Newcomb accepts a plea deal.
Judge Edward Casias granted a defense motion to limit pretrial publicity, asking members of the media to refrain from publishing information that might prejudice potential jurors.
"I think certainly one of the functions of the press is to keep the public appraised of what is going on with cases, particularly cases that merit community review," he said. "But I do have concerns that the facts of the case are being presented in a way that will make it difficult if the case continues forward to find a jury base that has not heard much about the case."
Newcomb was arrested Jan. 31 after allegedly hitting his wife in the head with a hatchet, fracturing her skull, and then striking her with a metal pipe reportedly being used as a door stop, causing her to need stitches, according to an arrest affidavit and a report from the 5th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
A neighbor reportedly interrupted the fight and called police after hearing a "scuffle," the arrest affidavit stated.
But Newcomb's family has refuted the account of events included in the affidavit as well as the attempted murder charge, suggesting Newcomb had acted in self-defense.
The Summit Daily has not yet received a response to a request for an interview with Newcomb.
If convicted, Newcomb could face up to 32 years in prison for the attempted murder charge. The second-degree assault charge, also a class 3 felony, carries the same penalty. But if convicted of both at trial, Newcomb would be required to serve consecutive sentences for the two charges, as they are classified as crimes of violence.