The Boulder District Attorney’s Office has dropped the manslaughter case related to a homicide in July after a further investigation showed the victim’s death might have been due to drug use and a heart condition and that the defendant also had a viable self-defense case.
The Boulder District Attorney’s Office on Monday filed a motion to dismiss the charge of manslaughter filed against Brian Farrar, 21, citing “no reasonable likelihood of conviction at trial.”
Farrar was initially arrested by Boulder police on suspicion of first-degree murder in the July 23 death of Terry Shipman, 51.
Police found Shipman unconscious outside Circle K, 1480 Canyon Blvd., and he was taken by ambulance to Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Other employees at the Circle K, where Shipman also worked, said Farrar had stolen Shipman’s bicycle and that Shipman was trying to get it back when an altercation broke out between the two men.
Video surveillance showed the two men fighting, and witnesses described Farrar as landing a “roundhouse” kick on Shipman.
But an autopsy by the Boulder County Coroner’s Office later determined that Shipman’s only external injuries were some broken ribs, and that the main contributing factors to his death were a heart condition and methamphetamine intoxication.
Further video surveillance obtained by Boulder police also showed the kick thrown by Farrar never actually landed, and that the broken ribs were sustained when Shipman fell on the bicycle.
While the manner of death was ruled a homicide by the forensic pathologist due to another person being involved, “Discussions with the coroner’s office demonstrated that the homicide designation is a medical term, rather than a legal term.”
“This ruling of homicide was not related to any legal determination of the appropriateness or provability of criminal charges,” the motion to dismiss read. “The forensic pathologist would not be able to opine whether it was more likely that Mr. Shipman died of natural causes or as a result of any actions of the defendant.”
In addition, further investigation showed that someone else stole Shipman’s bike and then gave it to Farrar. Thus, when Shipman approached Farrar, prosecutors said Farrar “had a lawful right to defend property he believed to be his own,” and “has a viable defense at trial of defense self and/or defense of property.”
The Boulder District Attorney’s Office discussed the matter with Shipman’s family, and noted they wanted to the case against Farrar to proceed.
“Upon completion of the Boulder Police Department’s investigation, the People discussed the issues, as outlined in this motion, with proving the pending charge beyond a reasonable doubt with the victim’s family,” the motion read. “Although Mr. Shipman’s family respects the People’s position, they do believe that the defendant is responsible for the death of Mr. Shipman. Therefore, they do not agree that this case should be dismissed.”
But prosecutors ultimately determined they could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Farrar was not acting in self defense and that he committed manslaughter, which under Colorado law requires the defendant “recklessly causes the death of another person.”
“This was a very tragic incident,” Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty said. “I appreciate the exhaustive efforts of the Boulder Police Department and the Coroner’s Office. In every case, especially one as serious as this, our goal is to reach the right outcome based on the evidence.
“The thorough investigation ultimately revealed that Mr. Shipman had a serious heart condition and was under the influence of meth when Mr. Shipman initiated a physical altercation with Mr. Farrar. Although justice requires that the criminal charges now be dismissed, the loss of life and the pain for Mr. Shipman’s loved ones remains incredibly significant.”