Court awaits jury decision following closing statements in Frisco murder trial
June 25, 2015
Charles Sattler awaits a final verdict as jury deliberation continues after Tuesday's closing statements. The jury will decide whether he should be convicted on charges of second-degree murder and first-degree assault in connection with Blake Bostic's death in April 2014.
"Sattler was engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death to another person," said deputy district attorney Alexandra Deitz of the fight at Frisco's Snowshoe Motel. The prosecution's goal was to prove Sattler "knowingly and recklessly" caused Bostic's death, beyond a reasonable doubt, to prove charges of second-degree murder.
"He knew his own strength," Deitz said, pointing to statements from Sattler's previous interviews such as "I hit twice as hard as most people," "I guess he (Bostic) fell after I knocked him the (expletive) out," and, "when I lose it, I lose it."
The prosecution pointed to these statements as support the claim that Sattler was aware of the potential outcome of his actions.
But, public defender Thea Reiff said that Sattler was not aware of Bostic's death when he made these comments.
"There is a level of boastfulness and puffery going on when Sattler brags that he successfully defended a friend, not that someone died," Reiff said.
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In her closing statement, she argued that Sattler acted in defense of his friend, Charles Upchurch, who was punched multiple times by Bostic, according to statements by Sattler and Upchurch.
Sattler, a former amateur MMA fighter, participated in five matches in his lifetime, according to testimony by his aunt. His last match was 15 years ago.
"He did snap," Reiff said. "He snapped into action when he saw his friend being violently attacked. He acted within the bounds of the law. You don't lose your right to defend your friend, you don't lose your right to defend yourself, just because you boxed in your 20s."
She added that in an interview with Frisco Police detective Julie Polly, Sattler pointed to Bostic as the initial aggressor, saying "his buddy's face was going back and back and back."
According to Colorado statute on self-defense, the requirement to use physical force for the defense of the self or another is that the defendant must reasonably believe that attacker used "imminent or unlawful physical force."
The statute also requires that the response by the defendant must be a "degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose," believing that a lesser degree of force is inadequate, and that they were in "imminent danger" of being killed or severely injured.
Emphasizing that several witnesses presented varying accounts of what happened that night, Deitz called into question the validity of Upchurch's testimony.
"Blake Bostic was in danger. Mr. Upchurch has no knowledge of what happened out there. He has no memory of the event and no credibility," Deitz said, referring to a statement by Upchurch that he had been knocked out from a punch by Bostic.
While Upchurch claimed he never saw Sattler land a punch, Bostic's friend and coworker, Ryan Stevens, claimed Upchurch started the fight. He said Upchurch shoved Bostic several times, but Bostic never punched him. Like Upchurch, Stevens also claimed memory loss of the incident due to a punch to the head by Sattler.
Deitz pointed to the testimony of two anonymous witnesses who were staying at the Snowshoe Motel that same night, who claimed they saw Bostic lying on the ground, unconscious, being punched in the face by Sattler.
"This was not a fight … this was an assault," Deitz said. "The defendant didn't stop when it was over, when Mr. Bostic was done. When the only reason (Bostic) wasn't down on the ground was because Mr. Sattler held him up by the collar and hit him again and again."
With Bostic standing at 6 feet, 9 inches tall, the defense said discrepancy between his and Upchurch's shorter height explained Sattler's reason for intervening. But, Deitz added, "The height of Mr. Bostic, once he's lying on the ground, being struck repeatedly, doesn't make a difference."
"The tragic result of this is Blake Bostic is dead," Deitz concluded, prompting sniffling and tears from the gallery. "The defendant's response, after he had beaten the life out of Blake Bostic, is to go back in his motel room, lock the door and wait."
A matter of seconds
"A few seconds. That's something everyone agrees on in this case. That's how long the fight lasted," Reiff closed. "Mr. Sattler acted on instinct in a matter of seconds."
Deputy district attorney Rusty Prindle disputed these claims in a closing rebuttal argument, saying that the incident may have lasted from 30 to 45 seconds based on Sattler's testimony in an interview with Polly.
"How long does it take for someone to get beaten to death when they're hit in the head?" Prindle asked. "Even if Mr. Sattler did have a right (to self defense) at one point in time, it ended. … It should have ended out that doorway."
He added that Sattler once mentioned, in an interview with a police officer, dragging Bostic outside.
"How could somebody be a threat to somebody if they have to drag them out of the room?" Prindle asked the jury.
Reiff maintained that Sattler acted in defense of Upchurch, adding that in recorded interviews and phone conversations, Sattler never changed his reasoning from defending his friend and clearing the motel room.
"Self-defense is a right that you all have, that we all have. The defense of others is a right that we all have," Reiff said. "It's not a right that's grounded in deliberation; it's a right that is there to sanction and justify the need to act on instinct to protect somebody."
She added that Sattler's actions were not in extreme indifference, as it would be extreme indifference "to ignore that his friend was being beaten in the face over and over and over."
With the final words of the rebuttal, family and friends filed out of the courtroom, to wait.
The jury paused their deliberations around 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday. They will resume at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
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