Silverthorne sexual assault defendant pleads not guilty, rejecting deal from district attorney

Ramon Villa, 42
Special to the Daily |

One of four co-defendants in a Silverthorne felony sexual assault case pleaded not guilty to all charges against him on Tuesday morning, rejecting two plea offers from the District Attorney’s Office and setting up a third and final trial stemming from the March 2016 incident.

Ramon Villa, 41, is one of four men accused of assaulting a woman while she was incapable of consenting after a night of drinking on St. Patrick’s Day last year. Two of the other men, Justin Erwin, 41, and Michael Gelber, 46, are waiting to be tried together next year.

The fourth, Paul Dee Garvin, was convicted of class-two felony sexual assault after a lengthy trial in October. He faces 16 to 48 years to life in prison at his sentencing hearing in January but is appealing his conviction.

Like his co-defendants, Villa faces three counts of felony sexual assault, along with lesser charges for unlawful sexual contact and invasion of privacy.

Appearing in custody for his arraignment in Summit County District Court on Tuesday, Villa told Judge Mark Thompson that he was rejecting both deals offered by the prosecution.

In the first, Villa would’ve pleaded guilty to second-degree assault as a crime of sexual violence carrying a sentence of six to 16 years in prison, prosecutor Lisa Hunt said during the arraignment. A second deal would’ve allowed Villa to plead to an open, class-four felony with a minimum sentence of 10 years to life probation of 4 years to life in prison.

Villa will instead try his case before a jury next year. His public defender, Stacy Shobe, told Judge Thompson that she expected to file many pre-trial motions, including a request to change the trial venue from Summit County due to media coverage surrounding the case.

Judge Thompson is set to hold a hearing on that motion on Jan. 18. Villa does not yet have a court date set, but Gelber and Erwin are slated for trial on Jan. 16.

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