In Summit County machete attack case, audo recording yields new insight
“This looks like the perfect place.”
That was the trigger phrase 20-year-old Tyrus Walter Vanmatre says he used before Brodi Olson, 16, shocked Jadon Jellis with a stun gun during the early-morning hours of June 17.
The jolt sparked a bloody fight that left Vanmatre with a punctured lung and Jellis, 18, with deeps gashes to his head and hand.
Vanmatre claims he and Olson had devised the plan about 13 hours before they made the drive up Swan Mountain Road in Summit County, parked Vanmatre’s Chevy Blazer at the Sapphire Point trailhead and walked into the woods. They were going to “mess with” Jellis, Vanmatre told investigators — trip on acid, tase him, tie him to a tree and scare him. That was the plan, he said.
Vanmatre claims he never intended to kill Jellis, who sat surrounded by friends and family in a Summit County courtroom on Wednesday, Sept. 24.
Vanmatre and Olson appeared in District Judge Mark Thompson’s court for a marathon, eight-hour hearing seeking to determine whether there is probable cause to proceed with criminal charges against the two men in connection with the violent incident.
Investigators say that Vanmatre and Olson, on June 16 and 17, lured Jellis to Summit County and into the woods at the crest of Swan Mountain Road. According to arrest reports, the two then attacked Jellis with a machete, leaving him with deep cuts to his face and hand.
Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies later found Jellis covered in blood and stumbling along the road. “Please help me. They’re trying to kill me,” he screamed.
Vanmatre and Olson were both later charged with first-degree attempted murder and first-degree kidnapping. In total, the county has filed 11 charges against the defendants.
On Wednesday, the courtroom quietly listened to nearly three hours of audio of Summit County investigators interviewing Vanmatre as he lay in a hospital bed at the St. Anthony Medical Center in Lakewood, recovering from surgery for wounds he sustained in the incident. From roughly 10:20 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. detectives with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office grilled Vanmatre, who changed his story at least four times under three hours of intense questioning.
After initially denying even being in Summit County at the time of the incident, Vanmatre claimed he, Olson and Jellis were driving to a party at a friend’s house in Silverthorne, got lost and attempted to find it by walking through the woods starting at Sapphire Point. As the interview continued, Vanmatre claimed Jellis hit him from behind, which provoked Vanmatre to swing with his machete. (Vanmatre owned a large cache of weapons, including throwing knives, that he kept in his car. Vanmatre and Olson were both armed; Jellis surreptitiously took some of Vanmatre’s weapons with him.)
However, as the long interview went on, and inconsistencies and fault lines emerged in his story, Vanmatre’s narrative changed again. He now claimed the plan was to take acid, use the stung gun to subdue Jellis and “mess with him,” but not kill him. However, the plan turned unexpectedly bloody and violent as Vanmatre discovered that Jellis was armed as well.
Vanmatre and Olson fled the scene, leaving Jellis behind and driving to a gas station to purchase first aid supplies to treat Vanmatre’s injuries.
The audio recording is central to the district attorney’s effort to establish probable cause that Vanmatre and Olson acted with foresight and violent intent when they brought Jellis to Summit County. No ruling was made during the hearing on Wednesday, during which one of the detectives who interviewed Vanmatre, Wes Mumford, testified. The parties will reconvene next month for another preliminary hearing and additional testimony will be heard.
Olson and Vanmatre had their own separate defensive attorneys present at Wednesday’s proceedings. Both had friends and family in attendance as well. Vanmatre was living in Littleton at the time of the attack; however, he had lived in Summit County for about a year and was a former goalie for the Summit High School hockey team.
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