Colorado’s ‘Make My Day’ law invoked in Summit County murder case
The defense attorneys for Charles Lee Sattler, the suspect in the beating death of local chef Blake Bostic, requested the case be dismissed under a Colorado law called “Make My Day.”
The 1985 law is nicknamed for the catchphrase popularized by Clint Eastwood’s iconic character “Dirty” Harry Callahan.
Under that law, an occupant of a dwelling may use deadly force against an intruder when the occupant reasonably believes the intruder committed or intends to commit a crime in the dwelling beyond the uninvited entry and might use physical force against any occupant.
Sattler, 42, appeared Monday, Nov. 24, before judge Karen Romeo in Summit County District Court with public defenders Sommer Spector and Stacy Shobe for a motions hearing.
Sattler, a construction worker and amateur boxer, is charged with one count each of second-degree murder and first-degree assault stemming from an alleged fight during the early morning hours of April 14 at the Snowshoe Motel in Frisco.
Romeo declined to make a ruling on the “Make My Day” motion Monday so she could further review the law and the evidence, including recordings from an interview between Sattler and the lead detective on the case.
The defense also requested that specific statements made by Sattler and his friend Charles Upchurch, who was present at the alleged incident, be suppressed as evidence during a 12-member jury trial set for Jan. 20.
That motion rested on whether Sattler’s Miranda rights were violated. Miranda rights refer to a suspect’s right to remain silent. Officers must make suspects aware of those rights before they are taken into custody or interrogated.
“He (Sattler) made a lot of incriminating statements,” said Rusty Prindle, deputy district attorney with the prosecution. “They (the defense attorneys) don’t want the jury to hear that.”
Prindle argued that Sattler’s comments at the motel about his prior fighting experience, a key aspect of the case, were voluntary. Prindle added that officers aren’t required to recite the Miranda warning when asking general questions when they first arrive on scene.
For the defense, Shobe argued that though Sattler was not placed under arrest, he was effectively in custody and was asked questions that could elicit incriminating answers.
She also argued that the statements should be suppressed because none of the police officers recorded their initial interactions with Sattler.
A handful of law enforcement officers directly involved in the case testified Monday as well as Bostic’s friend Ryan Stevens, the fourth man present at the motel April 14.
The officers said when they arrived at the scene around 2:20 a.m. they found Bostic lying unresponsive outside one of the motel’s rooms.
Then they talked to Sattler and Upchurch inside the room they had rented for the night; both men said it was there that Bostic attacked Upchurch.
Sattler said he jumped in to defend his friend.
Stevens, however, told the court Monday that Upchurch was the aggressor in an argument that police say started over hot sauce Bostic had been selling that night.
Upchurch pushed Bostic three times, Stevens said, adding that he didn’t see Bostic swing. Upchurch’s third push sent Bostic, who stood 6 feet 9 inches tall, backwards into the wall, Stevens said.
“At that point I was on my way to try to break it up,” Stevens said, when “I was punched in the side of the face” by Sattler.
Stevens said he doesn’t remember anything until he woke up outside the motel with officers. He didn’t recall how Upchurch received a cut on his face, how Bostic and Upchurch received cuts on their forearms or how hot sauce jars ended up broken outside.
Bostic and Stevens met Sattler and Upchurch at Ollie’s Pub and Grill about an hour before the incident, and when the bar closed the four intoxicated men moved to the motel.
Soon a fight broke out inside Sattler’s room and spilled out into the motel’s back parking lot.
According to police reports, witnesses saw Sattler holding Bostic up by the shirt collar and punching him repeatedly in the face. Bostic’s body was limp and his arms were at his sides.
First responders performed CPR for about 40 minutes at the scene before Bostic was rushed to St. Anthony Summit Medical Center. He was pronounced dead at 3:20 a.m.
Bostic died of closed head and neck injuries due to blunt force trauma, according to an autopsy report. He was 38.
Sattler remains in custody on $250,000 bond. He faces 16 to 48 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections on the murder charge and up to 24 years on the assault charge if found guilty at trial and if crime-of-violence sentencing enhancers come into play.
Romeo heard arguments for more than a dozen other “housekeeping” motions, then set another court date for Dec. 8 to give rulings on the leftover motions.
She allowed Bostic’s parents, who have traveled from Texas for every hearing, to call in and listen to courtroom proceedings that day.
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