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Judge finds probable cause to continue case against Fourmile murder suspect

Stephen Wolf slated to next appear in court on Nov. 8 for motions hearing in slaying of Jeffrey Lynch

Stephen Wolf appears in court next to Attorney Jason Sharman in Boulder on Aug. 2. A judge on Friday ruled there is probable cause to continue the murder case against Wolf in the death of Boulder County resident Jeffrey Lynch.
Stephen Wolf appears in court next to Attorney Jason Sharman in Boulder on Aug. 2. A judge on Friday ruled there is probable cause to continue the murder case against Wolf in the death of Boulder County resident Jeffrey Lynch.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the fact that it was Stephen Wolf who reportedly fled University of Colorado Boulder police officers after running a red light.

The courtroom erupted in cheers and applause from the victim’s family Friday when a  judge determined there is enough evidence to uphold charges against the man suspected of killing a general contractor this summer in Fourmile Canyon.

Stephen Wolf, 25, of Gold Hill, appeared in court at the Boulder County Justice Center for the second part of a preliminary and proof evident presumption hearing before Judge Bruce Langer. Wolf has been charged with first-degree murder after deliberation and felony murder in the death of 57-year-old Boulder County resident Jeffrey Lynch.

Additional charges against Wolf include first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, tampering with a deceased human body, vehicular eluding and tampering with physical evidence.

Jeffrey Lynch, middle, with sons Michael, left, and Mark.

Based on testimony from six witnesses who testified Tuesday and Friday, Langer said he found there is probable cause to proceed with charges against Wolf. The burden of proof was a “much closer call” because Lynch’s cause of death is unknown, Langer said. Wolf will continue to be held without bond at the Boulder County Jail.

Public defender Jason Sharman seized on the lack of evidence in his closing remarks on Friday.

“First off, the most glaring omission is the lack of the cause of death,” Sharman said. “There is still a great deal of unknowns about what caused that death (and) whether it had anything to do with Mr. Wolf.”

Sharman also criticized the prosecution for showing “zero evidence” to support intent in the crime, which he emphasized must be supported by evidence and not speculation. He also reminded the court that police and prosecutors knew Wolf has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and suffers from delusions.

In contrast, Deputy District Attorney Megan Bradford painted a picture of Wolf as man who had been so desperate to elude police, following a traffic stop incident two days before his arrest, that he was willing to break into a home in the hopes of finding fuel for his car and to kill Lynch when a fight ensued. She said Wolf confessed that police were after him and asked Lynch not to contact authorities, giving Wolf intent for the crime.

The home where Lynch was found showed signs of Wolf trying to cover up a crime, demonstrated by smell of bleach in the home, plastic wrapping over the car seat where Wolf had been sitting, she said. Bradford also pointed out that Wolf was caught holding tools, which she said he planned to use to bury Lynch’s body. She questioned whether a person would go to such lengths if they had only stumbled upon someone dead, as the defense suggested.

On Tuesday, a Boulder County Sheriff’s deputy, two detectives and a University of Colorado Boulder patrol officer testified throughout the afternoon.

Evidence and testimony revealed several new details about the case, but left the court wondering how Lynch died. Friday’s testimony didn’t reveal anything further about Lynch’s cause of death, but gave the court a more complete picture about what happened the day Lynch died.

Lynch was found dead July 30 at 16 Camino Bosque in Fourmile Canyon. His body had been wrapped in plastic and duct tape and shoved in the trunk of his own car. Police found Lynch after they were called to a welfare check at the Fourmile Canyon home.

Lynch, a general contractor, had been making some repairs on the vacant home in the days leading to his death. The home was owned by a former girlfriend and friend, Leslie Tydings, who was preparing to sell the home.

On July 30, Tydings went to look for Lynch at the Camino Bosque home, after she didn’t hear from him when he didn’t show up on July 28 to build some shelves as they had planned. She asked the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office for a welfare check on Lynch that same day, according to court testimony Tuesday.

In the garage of the home, Tydings found Wolf sitting in the driver’s seat of Lynch’s car. She confronted him about Lynch’s whereabouts and he said Lynch had asked him to help clean.

Deputies from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office showed up moments later and Wolf was arrested.

Stephen Wolf

The court heard Friday from two more witnesses, including forensic pathologist Dr. Daniel Lingamfelter , who conducted an autopsy on Lynch. Lingamfelter said the decomposition of Lynch’s body may have “masked” subtle injuries and that Lynch’s cause and manner of death were still being determined.

Public defender Jessica Hempstead asked Lingamfelter whether he had been able to rule out natural causes of death. To which Lingamfelter said he had not. When asked if he had ruled out suicide, Lingamfelter said he had not — though case evidence pointed away from it as a cause of death. Lingamfelter said he had also not yet ruled out homicide.

The court also learned more about why Wolf was at the Camino Bosque house in the first place.

Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Detective Don Dillard testified Friday that he processed Wolf once he arrived at the sheriff’s headquarters on July 30.

Wolf declined to make a statement to Dillard and asked for a lawyer. He also told Dillard that he wished to plead insanity. Dillard said at that time detectives moved forward with taking photos of Wolf’s body and bagging his clothing for evidence.

“I was explaining to him what we were doing and that he was free to ask questions,” Dillard said. “(Wolf) started saying he thought he was set up.”

Dillard said Wolf described the garage as “magically opening” and Lynch “magically” appearing. Wolf told Dillard what drew him to the house on July 28 was a gas can on the side of the road.

Earlier that day, Wolf had fled from University of Colorado Boulder police officers after he was caught running a red light. Wolf’s car was in the process of being impounded due to a lack of insurance and registration when he fled from police. Low on gas, Dillard testified that Wolf was drawn to a gas can on the side of the road, near the Camino Bosque home where Lynch was working.

“(Wolf) went into garage to see if the gas cans had something to put in his car at which point a guy came out yelling,” Dillard said. “The guy shoved him back into a wall … and before he knew it the guy was dead.”

Investigators found a dent in the wall of the garage, according to Boulder County Sheriff’s Office Detective JoAnne Compton, though the defense argued the drywall likely was among the repairs Lynch was to perform at the house.

Dillard photographed scrapes along Wolf’s upper back. Wolf also had a scratch on his face and a black eye, which became noticeable as Wolf’s injury progression was photographed throughout several days. Dillard said bruises can sometimes take a day to manifest.

In cross examination, Sharman questioned whether Dillard had been told by Wolf’s family that he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and that he was not taking his medication. To which, Dillard said yes.

Sharman also asked if his client’s family indicated that he often thought people were after him. To which Dillard said yes.

However, Dillard said that at no point did Wolf seem confused about where he was or what was happening.

With probable cause determined, the case against Wolf will proceed. Wolf will next appear in court for a motions hearing at 8:15 a.m. Nov. 8. Sharman said he intends to file a request for recusal, a motion to withdraw a judge, prosecutor or juror from a case, due to a possible conflict of interest or inability to be impartial. He did not name who he would seek to have recused from the case. Following the hearing, Sharman said he could not say more about the nature of the filing at this time.