Frisco motel homicide charges against Charles Lee Sattler headed for trial
June 27, 2014
Charges stemming from a deadly fight at a Frisco motel will go to trial, a district judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Karen Romeo said there is enough evidence to move forward with second-degree murder and first-degree assault charges pending against Charles Lee Sattler, a 42-year-old construction worker and former amateur boxer from Michigan accused of beating Frisco resident Blake Bostic to death on April 14.
Sattler appeared Thursday in Summit County District Court with public defenders Sommer Spector and Stacy Shobe for a preliminary hearing. About 30 of Bostic's friends and family members attended the four-and-a-half-hour-long hearing, during which the court heard testimony from Frisco police officer Russell Arnold, who was the first to respond to the scene, and Frisco police Det. Julie Polly, who is the lead investigator on the case. Polly interviewed Sattler, Sattler's friend Charles Upchurch, Bostic's friend Ryan Stevens and two other unidentified eyewitnesses in the hours and days after the alleged fight.
During a preliminary hearing, it is the burden of the prosecution to provide evidence to show there is probable cause to try a defendant on the filed charges. Both second-degree murder and first-degree assault require several elements of proof. Arguably the most significant of those elements is whether Sattler was aware that his actions could result in the serious bodily injury and death of Bostic.
Deputy district attorney Rusty Prindle argued he did, given testimony in which Sattler told law enforcement officers about his prior experience and training as an amateur boxer.
"Is that relevant? Absolutely," Prindle said. "It's absolutely a relevant fact a jury could use to determine probable cause."
The most compelling evidence, Prindle said, were statements allegedly made by Sattler to law enforcement officers at the scene or during his interrogation with Polly. Prindle highlighted several of those quotes during his closing argument to show Sattler was aware his actions could have resulted in Bostic's death:
• "I saw the big dude (Bostic) smashing my buddy in the face, so I smashed him in the (expletive) head."
• "I smashed him (Bostic) to the ground. I hit him at least twice (before Bostic went to the ground)."
• "I hit like a champ."
• "I snapped. If I snapped, I don't know what the (expletive) I did."
• "I hit hard for my size. Usually if I hit you, something breaks."
On cross examination, Shobe and Spector focused their efforts on quashing statements made by two unidentified eyewitnesses, discrediting Stevens, who was intoxicated at the time of the alleged incident and during initial interviews with law enforcement, and arguing that Sattler's alleged actions were done in self-defense.
Spector cited statements made by Upchurch and referenced in police reports that the alleged incident was instigated by an argument between Upchurch and Bostic. The two pushed each other several times, Spector said, before Bostic punched Upchurch in the face at least three times.
Spector also cited statements made by Sattler to Polly that he was intimidated by the much larger Bostic, who stood 6 feet, 9 inches tall, and was worried about his friend when he saw Upchurch's head rock back with each of Bostic's alleged blows.
Spector argued Sattler was simply coming to the aid of a friend when he jumped into the fight and moved it out of the hotel room.
But Prindle countered saying the two unidentified eyewitnesses reported to law enforcement they watched as Sattler allegedly held Bostic up by his shirt collar and punched him several times in the face. According to reports, the eyewitnesses said Bostic was on the ground in the rear parking lot at the time, his body was limp, his arms were at his sides and he made no effort to resist Sattler's alleged assault.
"A defendant is no longer entitled to (an argument of) self-defense when there is no longer a threat," Prindle said. "According to Det. Polly and officer Arnold's testimony, Mr. Bostic was not offering any resistance.
"When a person is offering no resistance, it is no longer self-defense, it becomes an assault and an assault in this case that ended in a homicide."
Romeo ultimately sided with the district attorney's office, saying it met its burden to show probable cause of both charges.
Sattler is scheduled to return to court at 11:30 a.m. Monday, July 28, for a disposition hearing.
The court then addressed a motion by the public defender to have Sattler's bond reduced from $250,000 to $100,000. Spector noted Sattler's eight years of on-and-off contract work with a Denver construction company in arguing the defendant is not a flight risk.
In accordance with Colorado victim's rights laws, Bostic's mother, Ruth Yeager, was allowed to address the court during the bond hearing. She asked the court to keep bond at $250,000, saying she thinks Sattler is a flight risk given his loose ties to Colorado, the nature of the offenses and his potential prison sentence.
Sattler is facing 16 to 48 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections on the murder charge and up to 24 years on the assault charge if found guilty at trial and if crime-of-violence sentencing enhancers come into play, Prindle said.
Yeager also said she thinks Sattler, if released on bond, would flee to his home state of Michigan, where he would have the personal and financial resources to make an escape to nearby Canada.
"I would imagine he (Sattler) would want to hightail it out of Summit County if released on bail," Yeager said. "The state line would be his next destination and then his home state of Michigan.
"My son was not allowed to get up and walk away from this alleged assault," Yeager said as she turned to look directly at Sattler. "He died."
Romeo noted arguments raised by Yeager and the prosecution in ruling to keep bail at $250,000.
The morning of April 14
Bostic and Stevens met Sattler and Upchurch during the early morning hours of April 14 at Ollie's Pub in Frisco. After closing, the four decided to go to Sattler and Upchurch's room at the Snowshoe Motel to have a drink and smoke marijuana, according to court testimony.
Shortly after arriving at the Snowshoe Motel an argument broke out, allegedly over homemade hot sauce Bostic, a chef at Incline Bar & Grill located at the base of Copper Mountain Resort, was trying to sell to Sattler and Upchurch. The argument escalated into a fight.
First responders performed CPR for about 40 minutes at the scene of the alleged crime, according to court testimony, before Bostic was rushed to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center. Bostic was pronounced dead at 3:20 a.m.
Bostic died of closed head and neck injuries due to blunt force trauma consistent with a fight, according to a preliminary autopsy report. He was 38.
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