Summit County man pleads guilty in St. Patrick’s Day sex assault case
Michael Gelber, one of four defendants in the case, agrees to one felony and two misdemeanors rather than go to trial
EAGLE — One of four men accused of a St. Patrick’s Day sexual assault pleaded guilty to reduced charges, rather than take his chances at trial.
Michael Gelber agreed to a guilty plea on three counts, one felony with a deferred sentence, and two misdemeanors. If he violates the law — any law — he goes straight to prison for up to four years, said District Court Judge Fred Gannett.
Gelber is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m., Oct. 3.
Gelber has to remain available to testify in co-defendant Justin Erwin’s 11-day trial, scheduled to begin July 16, also before Judge Gannett.
Gelber is one of four men accused of participating in the alleged Silverthorne assault on St. Patrick’s Day 2016. Paul Dee Garvin was convicted and was sentenced to prison for the mandatory 16 years to life by District Court Judge Karen Romeo.
Prosecutors Lisa Hunt and District Attorney Bruce Brown described it as a gang rape caught on video in a Silverthorne apartment that left a woman severely injured, shattered emotionally and suddenly rudderless in life.
The incident began on the night of St. Patrick’s Day in 2016, when the woman the defendants were drinking at Murphy’s Bar and Grill in Silverthorne.
Court documents and testimony in hearings suggest that the accuser was highly intoxicated and had a patchy memory of the alleged assault, captured on four cell phone videos recorded by at least one of the men starting around 4 a.m.
Police later found underwear matching the accuser’s DNA in Ramon Villa’s closet, one of the four men charged in the incident. Villa’s DNA was found on the accuser during a forensic examination, according to court documents.
Villa told Erwin in text messages that when he woke up the next morning at around 9 a.m., the accuser was gone, court documents say.
The accuser later told police that while her memory of the night was unclear, she vaguely recalled being held down and screaming in pain, according to pre-trial arguments earlier this month.
All the men were initially charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, invasion of privacy for sexual gratification and conspiracy charges.
The case was moved from Summit County to Eagle because of pretrial publicity.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and email@example.com.
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