Dietert likely to avoid prison for testimony in murder trials
BRECKENRIDGE – Michael Scott Dietert says he barely knew the two other young men with whom he stands accused of beating a man unconscious on Breckenridge’s Main Street a year ago today.
The victim died nine days after the beating.
But in the coming months, Dietert will testify against his co-defendants to send them to prison so that he won’t have to go.
Dietert, 22, appeared in Summit County Court Thursday and waived his right to a preliminary hearing on the charges against him – manslaughter, a fourth-degree felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor.
Dietert will take his case to District Court next month and ask a judge to approve a plea agreement reached between his attorney and District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
The prosecutor filed charges against Dietert last November, along with Brandon Robbins, 22, and Brian Stockdale, 21.
The three, all Breckenridge residents at the time, are accused of assaulting 36-year-old Cody Wieland in the early morning hours following Halloween revelry and a conflagration that erupted in a late-night Main Street eatery.
Wieland died nine days later from injuries sustained in the attack. Robbins and Stockdale face second-degree murder charges.
Robbins also is charged with tampering with evidence for allegedly disposing of a military-style helmet that was supposedly used in the assault.
Dietert is expected to provide more details on exactly what happened that night when he testifies at the two trials, which are scheduled to begin after the first of the year.
In exchange, he will plead guilty to the manslaughter and assault charges and receive a deferred judgment on the felony, according to the plea agreement.
In a deferred judgment, a defendant pleads guilty but avoids serving any sentence by complying with plea agreement terms – basically staying out of trouble.
If the defendant stays out of the jail and courthouse, the felony conviction is erased from his or her record.
The attorneys in the case also arranged the agreement so that the judge who hears Dietert’s testimony in the trials of the other two suspects will be the same judge who decides Dietert’s sentence.
The sentencing will wait until the conclusion of those trials. At the most, the district attorney said, Dietert could receive two years in county jail for the misdemeanor charge.
“We’re happy. This is what we wanted,” said Daniel Recht, Dietert’s defense attorney.
Recht and Hurlbert thought they had crafted acceptable plea agreements twice before.
However, two different District Court judges rejected the agreements because they stipulated that Dietert would not serve any time in prison – one of Recht’s main goals in defending his client. Recht said he believed the court would approve the most recent plea agreement because it doesn’t close the sentencing door all the way.
For Hurlbert, the District Court judge’s approval of the plea agreement will represent a major step in prosecuting Robbins and Stockdale.
“It’s important for him to be able to say what happened that night,” the district attorney said.
Testimony and evidence in the trials also will likely feature other witnesses who helped police identify the suspects and medical analysis such as MRIs performed during Wieland’s autopsy.
Until the Dec. 5 arraignment, Dietert returns to his mother’s home in Texas where he has been working as an assistant to an engineer and attending court-ordered alcohol abuse treatment.
Dietert said Thursday following his hearing that he is anxious for the case to conclude.
“I’ve learned more about courts and law than I ever wanted to know,” he said. “I just want this to be over.”
Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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