Chairlift pusher to plead not guilty by insanity |

Chairlift pusher to plead not guilty by insanity

Thomas Proesel

A 32-year-old Aspen man who threw a snowboarder off a chairlift at Aspen Highlands in January will plead not guilty by reason of insanity to charges related to the incident, his lawyer said Monday.

Attorney Pamela Mackey, of Denver, said she wanted to travel to Tennessee, where Thomas Proesel is undergoing mental-health treatment, and arrange a Skype or phone hearing with the district court during which he would enter the pleas to felony attempted assault and misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan, however, said entering such a “significant plea,” which triggers many special rules, requires Proesel to be present in the courtroom. Mackey said that would be difficult because it would require a three-day drive for him to return to Colorado.

“It’s very dangerous for him (to leave),” she said. “His mental state is fragile at best. We can’t put him on a plane.”

Still, she said Proesel is “doing well in treatment.”

Participate in The Longevity Project

The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.

Bryan said her biggest concern is any possible appeals that might later arise out of the case and that she wants to “do everything by the book.”

District Judge Chris Seldin asked Mackey and Bryan to submit briefs on the issue, which he will decide on during a hearing April 18.

On Jan. 17, Proesel threw a 28-year-old local photographer and snowboarder Seth Beckton off the Loge Peak chairlift near the top of the lift after Beckton made an innocuous comment about skiing versus snowboarding in powder. He fell 20 to 25 feet, landed in a pile of fluffy snow and was not injured.

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