Wieland case moves to district court
BRECKENRIDGE – The cases of two of the three young men accused in the Halloween night beating death of Cody Wieland will move on to district court. The third man will testify against them.
Scott Dietert, 21, offered a plea bargain to the district attorney’s office, agreeing to accept a charge of felony manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against Brandon Robbins, 21, and Brian Stockdale, 20. Manslaughter carries a potential sentence of 2 to 8 years in prison. Dietert won’t be sentenced until after he testifies against Robbins and Stockdale, but District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said that if he testifies completely and honestly, his office will “look at sentencing other than Department of Corrections.”
Summit County Court Judge Ed Casias ruled Friday there is probable cause in the case against Robbins and Stockdale, which means they will move on to district court and, potentially, to a trial.
Stockdale, Dietert and Robbins, all of Summit County, were arrested on assault charges after the 36-year-old Wieland was beaten and left in critical condition on Main Street Breckenridge in the early hours of Nov. 1. Those charges were upped to second-degree murder when Wieland died in a Denver hospital nine days later.
In a strange turn of events, several members of Sharon Garrison’s family were in the audience. Garrison was murdered in her Breckenridge home in late 2000. Less than a year ago, her husband, Chuck, was found guilty and sentenced to 32 years in prison. Robbins’ mother, Karla, is Sharon’s Garrison’s sister.
Wieland’s wife, other family members and friends all wore plastic-encased pictures of Wieland and his son, Bohdan, pinned to their shirts. Bohdan turned 2 in December.
Friday’s testimony suggested Stockdale was the most aggressive attacker of the three, allegedly leading the chase after Wieland down Main Street following a verbal argument at Mambo’s bar. Stockdale knocked Wieland to the ground, then continued to kick him in the head after Dietert and Robbins had backed away from the downed man, according to testimony.
Robbins, too, inflicted a series of blows to Wieland’s head, but he used a metal Army helmet, witnesses said.
Dietert, meanwhile, reportedly sat on Wieland’s thighs, though witness Loren Mendenhall said the suspect’s back was to him, so it wasn’t clear if Dietert was also hitting Wieland.
Mendenhall gave the bulk of Friday’s testimony, relating in great detail such minute details as what direction the assailants were facing, how Wieland’s legs were crossed and the way the light fell on the scene.
Mendenhall, a 25-year-old ski technician, said he was out with three female friends Halloween night. The quartet went to Mambo’s for pizza at 2 a.m., and there Mendenhall noticed a man in a camouflage jacket wearing an Army hat and leading a red husky puppy on a leash. Later, that man was identified as Robbins.
Other witnesses say Robbins, Stockdale and Wieland got into an argument in Mambo’s. Dietert walked in, recognizing Robbins and Stockdale from around town, according to testimony. While Dietert later told friends he didn’t even know Stockdale’s and Robbins’ names, he allegedly got into the fray with them, walking up to Wieland and calling him a “faggot.” Wieland then punched Dietert, witnesses told police.
Mendenhall says he didn’t see any of that, but when he and his friends left the bar, they saw Robbins, a man in a white jumpsuit and a man bleeding from his lip (Dietert) arguing with Wieland, while the Mambo’s bartender stood with them in an attempt to break up the dispute.
Wieland eventually set off alone down Main Street. So did Mendenhall and his friends. They were only steps away from Mambo’s when “a white blur” moving at full stride passed the group, Mendenhall said. The blur, allegedly Stockdale, caught up to Wieland, who reportedly turned and hit Stockdale. It appeared to be the last time Wieland struck anyone.
When Stockdale threw Wieland to the ground, Wieland’s head appeared to strike the concrete, Mendenhall said. Wieland’s right arm landed on the sidewalk, and Mendenhall said his right hand never formed a fist or moved again.
The three men – who swore at Wieland and called him a faggot throughout the beating – ignored the repeated screams and shouts to stop from Mendenhall and his friends.
When the three men ran from the scene – with the man in the white jumpsuit swearing at Mendenhall that he’d “better not tell” on him – Mendenhall tried to help the injured man. Wieland was incoherent and mumbling, Mendenhall said.
“You could see lots and lots of blood on the sidewalk under him,” he said. “Part of his scalp was pulled up and mangled. I told him to relax, and he’s still trying to sit up. Every time he pulled his head up, you could see a stream of blood.”
Wieland’s pupils, he said, were first fixed, then dilated as Mendenhall leaned over him.
Suspects linked to scene
While Mendenhall said Friday he couldn’t identify either Robbins or Stockdale – sitting in court in dark suits and ties – as any of the three men he saw that night, Breckenridge Police Sgt. Susan Quesada said police officers linked the three to the scene. Dietert told a friend he’d been involved in the fight, she said. Another witness called to say he thought Robbins had been involved, and Stockdale called police and told them he’d heard they might want to talk with him.
Quesada said a pathologist’s report showed Wieland died of massive head injuries caused by blunt force trauma.
Defense attorneys argued that District Attorney Mark Hurlbert made a tenuous connection between the three suspects and the trio of Halloween night assailants. The defense also said the pathologist’s credentials weren’t adequately established. Those problems, they said, should keep the cases from moving on to district court.
The men make their first appearance in district court June 2.
Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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