The Colorado News Roundup: Grizzly Peak research area gets added protection (04.30.16)
CORTEZ, Colo. — The Grizzly Peak Research Natural Area rarely gets visitors, but the area is getting added protection to keep it from being disturbed so it can provide a baseline for what a natural area should look like. It also will be used to determine the effects of climate change.
The research area is located along the summits of the Rico Mountains and the headwaters of the Dolores River, and it covers the western flanks of Grizzly Peak, San Miguel Peak and Sheep Mountain.
There are no roads or designated trails. It has never been mined, logged or substantially grazed.
The area is known for its diversity of mountain wetlands, alpine grasslands, tundra, mature spruce-fir forest, flowers and animals.
“The area was set aside because it has not been impacted by human development,” said Derek Padilla, Dolores District ranger. “It provides a research benchmark for what a natural area should look like when comparing development impacts on other areas.”
Some of the spruce-fir forests have trees more than 300 years old, researchers say.
Snowmobilers and other organizations have been notified they will no longer be able to access the area, the Cortez Journal reported. Non-motorized cross-country travel and hunting will still be allowed, however.
Signs will be posted this summer notifying people of permitted uses.
Fort Collins police videos improperly logged
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The Fort Collins police department is trying to determine why police officers incorrectly logged body-mounted camera footage that could have affected dozens of cases. In several cases, attorneys had no way of knowing whether video evidence existed or could have been used by the defense.
According to a police department audit, 38 videos involving 31 cases were not cataloged properly. In those cases, the videos were not transferred to the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office or the Fort Collins City Attorney’s Office.
Police say most police reports noted in writing whether an officer’s camera recorded the incident, but more than a half-dozen did not include them.
Police have recorded about 67,000 videos since Fort Collins first started using body-mounted cameras in 2012, the Fort Collins Coloradoan reported.
“While this represents a very small rate of error, we recognize that any degree of error is unacceptable,” Fort Collins Police chief John Hutto wrote in a memo outlining steps the department is taking to fix the problem.
Those steps include retraining and improved verification of records. Police have also halted deletion of all video evidence, and the department is auditing about 5,600 open Fort Collins cases to make sure the videos are available to authorities and attorneys.
Police say they contacted the district attorney’s office in March after first becoming aware of the errors. District Attorney Clifford Riedel said his office notified judges and defendants about the problems.
It was unclear whether the problems might have an effect on cases that have already been resolved.
Man gets life in prison for killing woman in Aurora
BRIGHTON, Colo. — A 45-year-old man accused of killing a woman after prosecutors say she caught him engaging in a sex act has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Christopher Michael Winters was convicted of first-degree murder Friday and sentenced for the May 23, 2015, death of 44-year-old Coresa Breault in Aurora.
Prosecutors say Breault left work as a taxi dispatcher and planned to go home, but Winters called and texted her to delay her return, using various pretexts. She finally became fed up and returned to the home, finding him engaging in what prosecutor Patrick Costigan described as “a bizarre sexual fetish.”
Costigan said Winters “suffered from the stigmatism of his unspeakable sexual fetish” and strangled Breault to death.
Man gets 24 years in prison for death of 5-month-old son
BRIGHTON, Colo. — A man charged in the death of his infant son has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.
Prosecutors with the Adams County District Attorney’s Office say 33-year-old Bryan Nicholas Thompson was sentenced Friday for the death of 5-month-old Bryan Thompson Jr. The father pleaded guilty in January to child abuse resulting in death.
Thornton police responding to a 911 call found the baby unresponsive at an apartment Nov. 23, 2011. He had bruises on his head, chest, abdomen and arm, lacerations on his neck and shoulders, as well as 18 healing rib fractures and scars from a previous third-degree burn.
An autopsy concluded he died of a liver laceration due to blunt-force trauma to the abdomen.
The baby’s mother was at work when police arrived at the home.
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