Norman sentenced to 16 years for beating Dillon hotel clerk |

Norman sentenced to 16 years for beating Dillon hotel clerk

BRECKENRIDGE – David Norman told the young desk clerk he would kill her. He had already ripped out large patches of her blond hair, kicked her in the face, broken her nose and pinned her to the floor to beat and strangle her with his hands. She believed she would die, and her only prayer then was that it would not be too painful.

Twenty-seven-year-old Elena lived, but she is so traumatized by the beating Norman gave her that late October night that she couldn’t testify against him during his sentencing hearing Tuesday. Norman was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Her friends say Elena carries unseen scars that will last far longer than that.

Norman is guilty of second-degree assault and attempted aggravated robbery for beating the young woman working at the Dillon Super 8 hotel.

Deputy district attorney Rachel Fresquez said Elena is trying to forget that night and has refused to speak to a victim’s advocate and to her investigators in her office.

Norman, meanwhile, says he doesn’t remember what he did to Elena. He is horrified, he said, to know he hurt another person so badly.

“I don’t understand what happened or why,” said Norman, a thin, black-haired man who stands well over six-feet tall. “I pray to God every night I’ll wake up and it will all have been a horrible nightmare. This isn’t me.”

Norman’s attorney said his client had been drinking what he termed “massive” amounts of alcohol. Not wine or beer, but Everclear, a pure grain alcohol. His blood alcohol content was well over the legal limit for driving six to eight hours after his arrest. “His written statement indicated he was in a blackout state,” said attorney Dale McPheeters.

Norman, 33, walked into the hotel lobby that night with his wife, Loreda Schumann Norman. He was carrying the head of an ax handle in his back pocket, according to police. The couple’s lives were in crisis, “out of control,” Norman’s attorney said, and they were trying to leave their old lives behind them. Police say the two had been living in a van for six weeks.

They say Norman snapped when Elena told him his credit card had been denied and the couple couldn’t get a room. He attacked her, and when she ran out the hotel’s back door, he followed her, dragged her back into the hotel and continued to beat her. Hotel manager Pamela Thurrott, who lives upstairs, heard the commotion and came downstairs. When she screamed at Norman to stop, he paused, looked up at her, then continued beating Elena, Thurrott said.

“He acted as if this attack was just part of a day in the life of David Norman,” she said.

After police rushed in and pulled Norman off Elena, Thurrott said Norman yelled at her, asking Thurrott how she could have hired “such a piece of s–t” as Elena.

In the courtroom, Norman bore no resemblance to the man witnesses described Tuesday. He apologized to Thurrott and hotel owner Heidi Thomas, looking both of them in the eye even as Thurrott shook her head “no” in response to his words.

Summit County Judge Ed Casias wasn’t completely unsympathetic to Norman, but said the alcohol doesn’t excuse what he did, calling the beating “inexplicably violent.”

“The chase … is almost beyond fathom,” Casias said. “You chased her like a hunted animal, and that’s what she thought she was.

“The demons that are now inside (her) head will probably be there forever. She will probably always be in fear of the unknown man around her. There’s no way to fix that.”

Norman’s wife sat behind her husband in the front row of the courtroom Tuesday, but did not speak on his behalf. She couldn’t, McPheeters explained, because she is cited with complicity in the attack and faces her own day in court.

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