A judge ruled Monday that one of the defendants being held in the April stabbing of a 19-year-old Longmont man will be spared a second-degree murder charge.
Lakesha Crutcher, 20, will go forward in the case on a charge of accessory to murder only, Boulder County Judge Carolyn Hoye Enichen ruled after an all-day preliminary hearing that stretched into the evening.
The judge ruled that there is probable cause to proceed with the original charges brought by prosecutors against the other three defendants, including charges of second-degree murder against Raymond Palomino.
Prosecutors say Palomino, 26, stabbed Logan Sisson at Lanyon Park in Longmont on April 20 after the victim had gotten into an argument with two of the other defendants at a house party. Sisson died a few hours later at a hospital.
Mariena Harris, Palomino’s 19-year-old girlfriend, will move forward on charges of second-degree murder and accessory to second-degree murder, while the judge found probable cause for Robert Wittmer, 36, to proceed on charges of accessory to second-degree murder and possessing explosives.
Crutcher’s attorney, Curtis Ramsay, successfully argued that her client was never seen with a knife at the park where Sisson was killed and that Crutcher should not be implicated on the more severe murder charge because of an alleged confession she made to someone.
But Harris’ attempt to bury confessional statements she made to her father and a fellow inmate about stabbing Sisson didn’t fly with the judge, despite assertions by her lawyer that even police and prosecutors have settled on the theory that Palomino wielded the knife that night.
Prosecutor Adrian Van Nice said Harris and Crutcher attacked Sisson that night, dropping him to the ground, beating him and then calling Palomino for back-up.
Gregg Friedman, who represents Wittmer, said he was dumbfounded that his client was being held on an accessory-to-murder charge for simply exercising his right to remain silent and not share with the police what he knew.
Prosecutors say Wittmer drove Palomino, Crutcher and Harris away from Lanyon Park after Sisson had been stabbed.
Friedman said there was no evidence presented at the hearing that Wittmer knew anyone had been stabbed after driving Palomino to Lanyon Park to help out his girlfriend in her struggle with Sisson.
But Van Nice countered that Wittmer had lied to police about where he had been that evening and with whom he had been.
“He did not choose to be silent â he chose to deceive,” she said.
The hearing featured a novel theory from one of the defense attorneys.
Mark Johnson, Palomino’s attorney, said Sisson actually targeted Crutcher and Harris for robbery in the park in an attempt to get money to fuel a drug-and-alcohol escapade.
Johnson asked Longmont police Detective Stacey Graham why Sisson’s friend, Robert Lewis, hadn’t been asked to explain why he had hung around Lanyon Park for 20 minutes after leaving the party where Sisson and the women had gotten into a fight.
Graham later testified that Sisson and Lewis had stolen liquor from a liquor store earlier that day and had robbed an apartment before showing up at the house party.
Testimony also included alleged statements by Palomino to three other people that he was the person who stabbed Sisson.
Three defendants are scheduled to be arraigned next month. Palomino will be arraigned in September.