Dietert sentenced to 18 months
BRECKENRIDGE – A chapter in the annals of Breckenridge infamy closed Wednesday with the sentencing of Michael Scott Dietert, the third and final suspect convicted in a Halloween 2002 beating death on Main Street. Following the sentencing, sheriff’s deputies led Dietert away in handcuffs, to join the other two defendants in prison. District Court Judge David Lass sentenced Dietert to 18 months in prison for his role in the death of 36-year-old Cody Wieland, and Lass made it clear he regretted not having the option of a longer sentence.Lass called the sentence “totally inadequate and disproportionate” to the seriousness of the offense.He noted that while Dietert has shown remorse and concern for the victim and his family, that he turned himself in to police and aided the prosecution, Dietert did not stay to assist Wieland as he lay unconscious and bleeding on the snowy sidewalk. Nor did he seek help for Wieland, the judge said.
Lass also cited evidence that suggested Dietert provided impetus for the assault.”I do not believe the defendant was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Lass said.The judge’s sentencing options were limited, though.District Attorney Mark Hurlbert and Dietert’s lawyer, Daniel Recht, spent a year and a half trying to get Lass and Chief District Court Judge Terry Ruckriegle to accept a plea deal: A sentence that did not include prison time for Dietert in exchange for his testimony against the other two suspects at trial. The judges nixed seven different plea deals, each time stating the seriousness of the offense and the uncertainty of Dietert’s culpability left them unable to accept sentencing restrictions.Last month, the attorneys came up with a more creative approach. They offered a deal in which Dietert would plead guilty to a lesser felony than the original charge, but one that would still give Lass the option of a maximum prison sentence of 18 months.
Lass accepted the deal, with the blessing of the victim’s family, and Dietert pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree assault related to the illegal administration of drugs.A pre-sentence investigation report completed by the probation department recommended a sentence of three years. Hurlbert urged the judge to sentence Dietert to 10 years probation and 90 days in county jail. Lass opted for the 18 months.”This court does not believe that further leniency is appropriate,” Lass said.Following the hearing, Hurlbert said that, though he disagreed with the judge’s analysis, he felt the sentence was appropriate, especially considering the severity of the sentences for the other two suspects.Earlier this year, Brandon Robbins and Brian Stockdale received 28-year prison sentences for their part in Wieland’s death.”Eighteen months in prison is not an insignificant sentence, either,” Hurlbert said.
Katie Wieland, wife of the victim who appeared in court throughout the past two years with the couple’s son, said she was glad the court proceedings were over, although it’s “not really over.” She said she truly believed Dietert was remorseful.Dietert addressed the judge and the family before Lass handed down the sentence, saying that he knew his words were not enough. Dietert told the family that he wished Wieland could be there that day. Shortly after his arrest, Dietert promised Wieland’s mother, Jocelan Martell, he would call her each Mother’s Day to tell her what he’s doing to make the world a better place.”I definitely have more sympathy for him as opposed to the other two,” Katie Wieland said. “But it’s still hard.”Reid Williams can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 237, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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