Suspects make first court appearance in Pfister murder case |

Suspects make first court appearance in Pfister murder case

A deputy wheels murder suspect William Styler III into the Pitkin County Courthouse basement, where he took the elevator up to the third-floor courtroom for Tuesday's advisement hearing.
Aubrey Dallas/The Aspen Times |

A Front Range couple made their first appearance Tuesday in Pitkin County District Court on pending charges that they murdered Aspen native Nancy Pfister.

Relatives and friends of Pfister’s, along with law enforcement officials, nearly filled the courtroom, where Judge Gail Nichols did not set bond for William Styler III, 65, and his wife, Nancy, 62. The couple are both in the custody of Pitkin County jail on potential charges of first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

At approximately 1:12 p.m., both Stylers were escorted through the courtroom’s back door, which typically is accessed by court officials only.

“I can’t stand up for her (the judge),” a wheelchair-bound William Styler told his wife, before Nichols entered the courtroom.

Both suspects were blank-faced during the hearing, in which public defender Sarah Steele provided counsel for William Styler; Aspen attorney Beth Krulewitch was the court-appointed attorney for Nancy Styler.

Steele noted that William Styler has “mental-health issues that need to be taken care of,” and said that both Stylers have not received official approval for a public defense.

Tuesday’s brief hearing, which included both suspects waiving advisement of the charges, came after the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office arrested the couple at the Aspenalt Lodge in Basalt at approximately 5:10 p.m. Monday.

Pfister, 57, who hailed from a prominent Aspen family, was found dead at her home off of West Buttermilk Road on Feb. 26.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia aided prosecutor Andrea Bryan, who is based in Pitkin County. Bryan asked the judge to give her six weeks to file charges. Nichols declined, noting the time frame would be too long considering there’s no bond. The judge set the Stylers’ next court appearance for March 17.

“You obviously got a warrant that I signed, and I would need a fairly or very good explanation as to why you can’t file” the charges on March 17, Nichols told Bryan.

Nichols also placed a protection order that forbids the suspects from having any type of contact with three members of the Pfister family — Nancy’s two sisters, Christina and Suzanne, and her daughter Juliana.

A sheriff’s office statement said the suspects are former residents of Castle Rock.

Officials have said the couple had been renting Pfister’s home since late November or early December. Pfister returned from a vacation in Australia on Feb. 22, and her body was found four days later.

The case file is sealed because the investigation is ongoing, authorities said.

“The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office will continue investigating this case and follow through with new and developing leads. The sheriff’s office will work hand in hand with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to aid the successful prosecution of this case,” said a statement issued shortly after 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.

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