Brandon Robbins sentenced to 28 years in prison
BRECKENRIDGE – Wednesday would have been Cody Wieland’s 38th birthday. But he is dead, and instead of celebrating, his surviving family watched with reluctant satisfaction as one of the men charged in Wieland’s death was sentenced to 28 years in prison.In front of a courtroom packed with friends and family of the accused and his victim, police and a pastor there to support both sides of the courtroom aisle, District Court Judge David Lass handed down the maximum sentence the law would allow.The judge sentenced Brandon Robbins to 12 years on a charge of manslaughter and 16 years on a charge of second-degree assault. Breckenridge police filed both charges following Wieland’s death in November 2002. Lass ordered that Robbins would serve the sentences consecutively.Lass said that he was compelled to impose a sentence that “adequately reflects the seriousness of this offense.”Lass explained in a 15-minute speech at the close of the hearing a judge must consider four aspects: the punitive side of sentencing, the rehabilitative possibilities, the sentence as deterrent to the defendant and others and the fairness, or parity, of sentences put upon defendants in similar cases.Referring to the 28-year sentence given in March to Brian Stockdale, another defendant in Wieland’s death, the “court sadly notes it has had to impose strong sentences on young adults who have committed serious crimes.” As for a deterrent, Lass said he hopes the sentence given to Robbins would send a message to the public that such crimes will not be tolerated in this community.”And after his incarceration, Mr. Robbins will have an opportunity to pursue a future,” Lass said of possible rehabilitation. “Cody Wieland does not have that opportunity.”Jocelan Martell, Wieland’s mother, had strongly protested holding the sentencing hearing on what would have been her son’s birthday.Martell, with a picture of herself and a newborn Cody pinned to her left breast and a button with another picture of her son and grandson on the right breast with a tag reading “Happy Birthday, Cody,” left the courtroom as witnesses testified to the judge on Robbins’ good character and other virtues. After the sentencing, Martell said she thought the judge’s ruling was well-reasoned and well-deserved.”I think it’s fair,” said Martell, who is headed to Illinois to speak at a conference for parents of murdered children.District Attorney Mark Hurlbert described his reaction to the sentence as mixed.”I happy with the sentence,” he said. “It’s the right sentence for the crime. But I would rather Brandon Robbins be free and Cody Wieland be alive.”Over the course of the two-day hearing, 33 people spoke in Robbins’ defense, urging the judge to take note of the outpouring of support for the man they described as hard-working, responsible, mature and selfless. Many credited Robbins with turning their lives around, making them part of his family and providing them with support in times of trouble.Robbins’ parents, Carla and Randy, said after the sentencing that they had hoped the show of support would convince the judge that prison would not be the right place for their son, that he was already learning his lesson and would carry it with him for the rest of his life.Some of Robbins’ supporters went so far as to question why Wieland bore no responsibility for his own death, insisting that Wieland had instigated the fight and accosted Robbins and friends just two weeks before the assault.Carla Robbins reiterated her accusations that Wieland had made unwelcome advances toward her on Oct. 11, 2002, and that Wieland was known as a trouble-maker at bars. The district attorney refutes those claims.Robbins’ parents said they decided not to take their son’s case to trial, hoping the judge would give Robbins concurrent sentences amounting to no more than 16 years, especially considering a report compiled by the probation department recommended a 10-year sentence.”It’s not fair, the judge is wrong,” Randy Robbins said. “He already had his mind made up, I think, and they were going to give (Brandon) what they gave Stockdale. Obviously, we’ll appeal.”Robbins’ attorney will have 20 days to file an appeal, and a hearing is also pending to argue the $111,000 restitution order to be shared by the three men convicted in the crime.Michael Scott Dietert, the third suspect, pleaded guilty to felony assault Tuesday and is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 22.Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 237 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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