Witnesses present varying accounts of Frisco murder scene
After a jury was selected Wednesday morning, four witnesses were brought to the stand to testify at the trial of Charles Sattler, a 43-year-old construction worker and former amateur MMA fighter charged with second-degree murder following the death of Copper Mountain chef Blake Bostic.
“I want you to hear what happened in this case from the people who were actually there, so I’m going to keep my story short,” deputy district attorney Rusty Prindle said in his opening statement, before presenting the prosecution’s first witness, Sgt. Russ Arnold of the Frisco Police Department.
Arnold, the first officer to arrive at the scene the night of Bostic’s death, said he was on his “graveyard shift” when he was called to the Snowshoe Motel around 2:20 a.m. He was called over by a couple in the neighboring motel room, who awoke that night to sounds of a struggle, and saw Sattler punching Bostic just outside of their room, Prindle said.
“When I first arrived on scene to this call, I came around the corner to the backside of the Snowshoe by the alley. I saw a large male with a beard and long hair lying on his back … There was a smaller man on top of him, bleeding out of his mouth, crying and trying to rouse him,” Arnold recalled.
Focusing first on medical attention, Arnold approached Bostic, noticing that he was non-responsive. He first saw that Bostic’s lips were purple, his face was pale, and he had a thin trail of blood coming out of the right side of his mouth. Bostic’s eyes were open, but he was not breathing and had a faint, slow pulse, Arnold said. He added that Bostic’s leg was contorted in such a manner that he believed it was broken, with his ankle at an “impossible” angle.
Arnold performed CPR to attempt to resuscitate Bostic until medics arrived. Then, he proceeded to interview Ryan Stevens, Bostic’s friend who was reportedly sitting outside near his body.
“When I first got there he was bleeding, crying, talking on the phone and shaking,” Arnold said of Stevens. “He seemed really upset … I think he had been drinking. I couldn’t understand all of what he was saying; he seemed really distraught and injured.”
He reported that Stevens thought he had been “cold-cocked,” or knocked unconscious, having no memory following what he claimed was a hit by Sattler.
“He said he remembered an argument and the next thing he knew he was lying in the snow and the cops were there,” Arnold added.
Entering Sattler and Charles Upchurch’s room at the Snowshoe Motel, Room 46, Arnold said the two men were cooperative. He first noticed two long lacerations on Upchurch’s right forearm, and two “scabby” scratches on his face, with two fresh marks and some swelling under his left eye. Sattler was unscathed, aside from some bleeding on his right-middle knuckle, and was using a rag to stop the bleeding. There were no weapons at the scene.
Arnold reported that both Sattler and Upchurch declined medical attention, and both Bostic and Stevens were transported to Frisco’s St. Anthony Medical Center.
In an interview with Arnold, Sattler said that Bostic, standing at 6 feet, 9 inches, hit Upchurch repeatedly before he intervened. Arnold also noted Sattler said, “I hit like a champ,” and then turned to Upchurch, saying, “I do damage when I hit somebody, huh?” Upchurch responded by announcing that Sattler was a semi-professional MMA fighter.
“I hit the big guy and after that, who knows. I snapped, and when I snap, I don’t know what the (expletive) I did,” Sattler said later.
Surveying the room, Arnold showed the jury a photo of a jar of habanero jelly found at the motel room, as well as some loose marijuana on a table by an ashtray.
“Mr. Sattler told me is that ‘the jelly is what started the whole thing,’” Arnold concluded.
“They both seemed a little lighthearted.”
Deputy Eric Sipes, of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, was the next witness called to the stand. Sipes said he was called to the scene of an “assault in progress,” which turned into a “medical” as he drove over around 2:30 a.m.
“When I initially approached, Mr. Stevens was lying on ground, moaning in pain. I noticed his upper lip was swollen, and there was dried blood around mouth,” Sipes said. “I noticed smell of alcohol as he spoke, and the smell of fresh (unsmoked) marijuana on his person.”
Sipes did not interview the two men, but took photos to document any injuries and listened in on their conversation. He said both men had bloodshot eyes, with the odor of alcohol on their breath, and added that Sattler’s speech was slightly slurred. He also noticed some blood on the cabinets in the back of the room, by the bathroom.
“They both seemed a little lighthearted — almost like they were joking back and forth between each other. There was a lot of laughing when they were talking,” Sipes said.
He added that Sattler said, “That’s what that (expletive) gets for trying to roll us,” possibly referring to Bostic overcharging the men for the habanero hot sauce or starting a fight.
In response to a cross-examination by public defender Stacy Shobe, he confirmed that Sattler also said, “(expletive) yeah, I was defending myself,” speaking to his right to self-defense when faced with conflict.
In her opening statement Shobe said, “with every punch that Mr. Bostic threw at Mr. Upchurch, Mr. Sattler saw his friend’s head bob back and back and back like a PEZ dispenser,” referring to Sattler’s words in a recorded phone conversation.
Accounts of how the fight started do not match, as seen in discrepancies between the testimonies of Stevens and Sgt. Ahmet Susic, a longtime officer with the Frisco Police Department.
Susic said Upchurch continually repeated that he was attacked by Bostic the night that he arrived on the scene.
“Upchurch opened the door to the room. As soon as he opened the door, I observed some lacerations on his face,” Susic said. “He kept saying, ‘I was attacked, I was attacked.’ I couldn’t understand most of it. I could smell the alcohol on him.”
He added that Sattler said Bostic attacked Upchurch, punching him in the face several times. Susic said that Sattler said he was defending his friend, adding “I guess I knocked him (Bostic) out.”
Stevens, on the other hand, maintains that Bostic never hit Upchurch. After meeting and having a few drinks at Ollie’s Pub and Grub in Frisco, Stevens said they walked back to the motel to “smoke some weed and continue the conversation about the hot sauce” that Bostic was trying to sell Upchurch.
Standing by the doorway, Stevens said he was chatting with Sattler, with no argument, when he heard Bostic and Upchurch break into a fight at the other side of the room. He claimed he saw Upchurch run at Bostic three times, with Bostic standing his ground, pushing Upchurch back, but not throwing a punch.
“I was moving towards the altercation to try to intervene, and I was hit on the left side of my face in the jaw. And that’s the last thing I can remember,” Stevens said.
After waking up and calling the police, Stevens said he turned Bostic on his side in an attempt to revive him to make sure his airway was not blocked.
“Mr. Bostic was one of my good friends, coworkers and roommate at the time that he … was passed,” Stevens said, voice breaking.
Bostic was 38 when he died that morning, with closed head and neck injuries due to blunt force trauma. Both Bostic and Stevens worked at the Incline Bar and Grill, located at the base of Copper Mountain.
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