Snowboarder Chairlift-Pusher Thomas Proesel Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity

Thomas Proesel. Additional photos below.
Thomas Proesel. Additional photos below.
Pitkin County Sheriff's Office via Aspen Times

Update: Aspen District Judge Chris Seldin has found that Thomas Proesel is not guilty by reason of insanity in a bizarre case that took place earlier this year: In January, at Aspen Highlands ski area, Proesel pushed snowboarder Seth Beckton out of a chairlift, causing him to fall twenty feet or more.

Citing a state psychiatrist's report, Seldin said, "It's clear...that Mr. Proesel was, at the time of the incident, experiencing a mental state that rendered him incapable of forming the culpable mental state."

According to the Aspen Times, Proesel has been ordered to turn himself in to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo by noon today. He's being driven there by his father. See our previous coverage below.

Update, 9:28 a.m. June 22: In January, snowboarder Seth Beckton was shoved from a chairlift at Aspen Highlands. He wasn't injured, despite falling 20 to 25 feet into the snow below.

As noted in our subsequent coverage, on view below, Thomas Proesel was arrested the following month on suspicion of committing this strange act — but in March, his attorney, Pamela Mackey (who also represented Kobe Bryant in a 2003 sexual-assault allegation in Colorado) announced her intention to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on behalf of her client.

According to the Aspen Times, this move prompted an examination of Proesel by a state psychiatrist, who has now concluded that he is legally insane. He's said to have been in the midst of a psychotic episode when he pushed Beckton out of the chairlift.

This determination hasn't officially ended the case; a trial date was set for July 15, despite questions from Proesel's current lawyer, Saskia Jordan, about whether such a proceeding is actually necessary at this point. (Jordan is a fellow member of Mackey's law firm, Haddon Morgan Foreman.) However, Proesel has been granted permission to continue receiving mental-health treatment at a facility in Tennessee where he's currently staying, and once that regimen is complete, he'll be allowed to move in with his parents, who reside in Winnetka, Illinois.

Continue for our previous coverage.

Seth Beckton, as seen in the photo that accompanied his Facebook post about being pushed off a chairlift.
Seth Beckton, as seen in the photo that accompanied his Facebook post about being pushed off a chairlift.
Facebook

Original post, 8:53 a.m. March 23: Back in January, our Chris Walker reported about snowboarder Seth Beckton's claim that someone had pushed him off a chairlift at Aspen Highlands ski area.

The following month, Thomas Proesel was arrested in the incident.

But the case has taken an unexpected twist.

Pamela Mackey, Proesel's Denver-based attorney, says she would like to enter of plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on behalf of her client.

If Mackey's name strikes you as familiar, it should. She was one of the lawyers who defended basketball player Kobe Bryant after he was accused of sexual assault in Colorado back in 2003.

Her other celebrity clients include embattled cyclist Lance Armstrong and Vincent Margera, known to MTV viewers as Don Vito, the bulbous uncle of wild man Bam Margera on the 2000s-era series Viva La Bam.

Here's Beckton's original Facebook post about the chairlift incident:

Snowboarder Chairlift-Pusher Thomas Proesel Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
Facebook

Upcoming Events

Afterward, according to Fox31, Pitkin County Sheriff's Office personnel used video footage from the resort in order to identify Proesel as the culprit.

He was subsequently accused of second-degree assault and reckless endangerment — but the station noted that prior to these counts being pressed, Proesel had spent three weeks in a Grand Junction mental health facility for a condition deemed "serious."

Now, the Aspen Times reports that Mackey plans to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in regard to the actions of Proesel, who is currently back in mental-health treatment, this time in Tennessee.

To put it mildly, such a plea is unusual in this kind of a case, which is likely why the judge overseeing the matter has asked Mackey and prosecutors to submit briefs on the topic by April 18.

A weird case just keeps getting weirder. Look below to see Proesel's booking photo.

Thomas Proesel.
Thomas Proesel.
Pitkin County Sheriff's Office via Aspen Times


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories
    Send:

Newsletters

All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >