Mistrial declared in ‘Snowball’ case
summit daily news
Summit County, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE ” Summit County Judge Ed Casias ruled a mistrial on Friday in the case against Andrew Thistleton, the Australia native accused of injuring a co-worker with a snowball.
A new trial has been set for 8:30 a.m. next Thursday.
Casias made his ruling a mere half-hour into Friday’s jury trial when the prosecution’s primary witness, Michelle Oehlert, brought up new harassment allegations against Thistleton about five minutes into her testimony.
Thistleton is charged with 3rd degree assault and harassment for throwing a snowball at Oehlert last February at Copper Mountain.
Thistleton’s attorney, Lisa Moses, objected to Oehlert’s testimony, which neither she nor the prosecutors had heard in the process of interviews and witness preparation leading up to the trial.
Casias said the situation was compelling enough and there was a high enough degree of necessity to declare a mistrial, a ruling which had Thistleton’s mother in tears.
“It’s devastating,” said Dr. Kim Anderson just before leaving the Summit County Justice Center. “This has been hanging over our heads for nine months now. We really haven’t forgotten this.”
Anderson, who spent $6,000 for her and her son to fly to the U.S. for the case, will need to stay in the county for another week waiting for the second trial date. She had hoped Friday would bring resolution.
“I don’t think we’ve slept a full night since this started,” she said.
Anderson said her son didn’t agree to a lesser petty offense charge offered in a prior plea agreement by the prosecution because he wants to clear his name and feels he did nothing criminally wrong.
After ruling the mistrial, Casias stopped short of issuing a gag order against the media reporting on Oehlert’s exact testimony, but urged the press to consider Thistleton’s right to a fair trial by not tainting a potential jury pool with information not relevant to the case.
The case has garnered international attention and several members of the Australian press working in Los Angeles and New York City flew in to cover this week’s trial.
Thistleton was a seasonal worker at Copper Mountain’s Breeze Ski Rentals last winter with Oehlert. Attorneys have said the two did not get along. On Feb. 3, 2007, Thistleton threw a snowball at Oehlert while she and her boyfriend were waiting for the bus. Moses has described the incident as playful, but the prosecution, which calls the object an iceball, characterizes Thistleton’s actions as malicious.
The trial began Thursday with jury selection and opening statements. It was to continue Friday with witness statements and a verdict.
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