Luke Chrisco
Luke Chrisco

A Boulder judge this morning approved a motion by alleged 'potty-peeper' Luke Chrisco to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity over the objection of prosecutors who said the move was a stall tactic.

Chrisco had originally pleaded not guilty on eight counts of second-degree burglary -- all felonies -- and two misdemeanor counts of unlawful sexual contact and criminal invasion in August. But Matt Connell took over the case as Chrisco's fourth attorney in November and filed a motion to change the plea on Feb. 1.

Boulder District judge Thomas Mulvahill ruled there was good cause to amend the plea, which Connell said was the first step to getting Chrisco the help he needed.

"I don't think you need to be a doctor or a lawyer to see that he's insane," Connell said after the hearing. "He's very sick, and he needs help."

Chrisco was arrested in the summer of 2011 a few days after a woman using a portable toilet at a Boulder yoga festival noticed something moving in the tank and then saw a feces-stained man emerge from the toilet and run away.

According to police and court records, Chrisco -- who was arrested by Vail police in an unrelated incident -- told Boulder and University of Colorado police that he hid in crawl spaces and bathrooms around Boulder, including at CU, Naropa University, the Department of Motor Vehicles office and a number of businesses, in order to watch women use the toilet.

Police later found physical modifications in many of the locations that matched Chrisco's descriptions of his hiding places.

Connell told Mulvahill that Chrisco was not in the right state of mind when he went into the portable toilet.

"He was unaware of the illegality of his behavior when he immersed himself in feces and urine," Connell said.

Connell said in his discussion with Chrisco, he told him that he believed he had the power to change the weather, and that by going into women's bathrooms he was "going into their temple" and that by praying he could transform himself in to a woman. He also said Chrisco told him voices told him to put his semen in a water bottle and "pour it around town and flick it on statues."

Deputy District Attorney Catrina Weigel questioned why none of Chrisco's previous attorneys entered an insanity plea, and said the move was a stall tactic.

"It seems to me insanity isn't the issue," she told Mulvahill. "They didn't like the offer we gave them so they're trying this route."

But Connell said the plea was not a tactic, and that he felt the plea was in the best interest of Chrisco.

"I'm going to do this the right way, and this is the right defense in this case," Connell said. "We have experts who can come in and say when he stuffed himself into a latrine filled with feces and urine, he was insane."

Connell added that Chrisco was not in the right state of mind when he entered the not guilty plea. When asked by Mulvahill, Chrisco agreed with the assessment and Connell's decision to pursue the insanity plea.

"I believe I was not mentally competent at the time of the arraignment (in August)," Chrisco told Mulvahill. "Obviously I believe I also was not culpable at the time of the original offense."

Chrisco -- who was scheduled to begin trial on March 11 -- will now undergo an evaluation at the Mental Health Institute in Pueblo and is scheduled for a hearing on May 20, almost a full two years after his arrest.

While Mulvahill acknowledged the case has dragged on, he said he felt the change of plea was appropriate and made in good faith by Connell.

"I recognize that as this case gets older, the people's evidence may become unavailable or stale," he said. "But under all the circumstances I think this is the just and right thing to do."

If found not guilty by reason of insanity at a trial, Chrisco would undergo treatment at the Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.

"It's a sad case, and he needs to be viewed with compassion," Connell said. "Generally I just think that the appropriate place for him is in the state hospital, not prison.