‘Snowball’ trial headed for second day today
summit daily news
BRECKENRIDGE ” A two-day trial began in Breckenridge Thursday to determine whether a seasonal worker from Australia should be criminally charged for hitting a co-worker with a snowball last season at Copper Mountain, which allegedly caused her pain.
Andrew Thistleton, 21, is charged with harassment and 3rd degree assault ” both misdemeanors ” for throwing a snowball at Michelle Oehlert last February.
At the time, the two worked together at the Breeze Ski Rentals and did not get along, said 5th Judicial deputy district attorney Michael Angel in his opening statements to a jury of three men and three women.
Oehlert and her boyfriend were waiting at the bus stop on Feb. 3, 2007, when Thistleton, unprovoked, threw a ball packed heavy and filled with ice at Oehlert, hitting her in her side, Angel said.
The impact caused Oehlert pain due to an accident the previous April in which she lacerated her spleen and broke bones.
Angel said even though the defense may describe the incident as good fun, it was nothing of the sort.
“It’s not a joke to chuck an iceball at someone from behind who’s not looking. … This wasn’t in good fun.
This was malicious and this had intent,” Angel said.
Thistleton’s attorney, Lisa Moses, maintains that all the employees of the ski shop often goofed around, sometimes throwing snowballs collected off rented skis at each other inside the shop.
She described the incident as a “lob of a snowball” and said Oehlert told the defense that she wasn’t hurt by the impact, but realized later she was experiencing pain.
Moses said that when police questioned Thistleton following the incident, he said he was being playful when he threw the snowball and offered to apologize if he’d bothered Oehlert.
“This is not an assault.
This is not harassment. That’s not what this is. This is playful action in the snow,” Moses said.
Thistleton and his mother flew in from Australia to attend the trial, although his attorney did not list him as a potential witness she will call in the case.
Prosecutors said they expect to call Oehlert, her boyfriend Gerald Newcomb and former Summit County Sheriff’s Deputy John Watts as their witnesses.
Moses said she will call two co-workers of Thistleton’s and Oehlert’s from last season and possibly an investigator that worked with her on the case.
Oehlert was not in the courtroom during Thursday’s proceedings.
The jury will hear testimony from the witnesses today and a verdict is expected by the end of the day.
The case is being heard in Summit County Court in front of Judge Ed Casias.
Nicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-4629, or at email@example.com.
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