On March 18, five Community College of Aurora students planned to film a movie for a class assignment at a cabin in Bailey. Before they got the chance to do so, they ended up in a real-life drama with a neighbor.
The students say that a man, later identified as Jon Spencer, confronted two of them when one of the group's cars got stuck in the snow on Stucke Road, in front of Spencer’s property. Malarie Stafford-Mustacchio, whose grandmother, former legislator Debbie Stafford, owns the cabin, says that Spencer was intoxicated and wouldn’t listen when the students promised to leave as soon as they could.
Eventually the students and Spencer ended up in a physical confrontation, causing injuries to three of the students. On April 25, Spencer appeared in court for a pretrial conference in the 11th District Court on two counts of assault.
At the hearing, Judge Brian Green issued a mandatory protection order stipulating that Spencer is not to have contact with any of the students, is not to possess a firearm or ammunition, and is not to possess or consume alcohol. The order also specifies that no one is to infringe on either party’s use of their residences. It will remain in place until the final deposition of the case, unless the court issues another order.
The next court date is at 2:30 p.m. May 24.
Stafford-Mustacchio says she’s glad the judge decided to issue a mandatory protection order. Though she lives in Aurora, she often goes to the cabin with her grandmother and wants to avoid any other unpleasant interactions.
According to Stafford-Mustacchio, Spencer’s attorney, Kylie Whitaker, argued that the order wasn’t needed because none of the students live in Bailey full-time. She also says that District Attorney Linda Stanley didn't seemed thrilled with pressing the students' case, particularly since they'd spoken with the media before the hearing.
The students believe the Park County Sheriff’s Office mishandled the case. It took more than thirty minutes from the time they called 911 for two Park County deputies to respond, and Stafford-Mustacchio says they were unprofessional, making jokes and failing to bring the appropriate supplies to take victim statements.
So far, the only charges against Spencer are two counts of assault in connection with two male students. Stafford-Mustacchio says that he should also be charged with assault for how he handled her, and with a hate crime against the driver of the vehicle, a Black female. According to Stafford-Mustacchio, while Spencer didn’t confront the white students in the first car that got stuck, he told the driver of the second, “You're a dumb Black bitch. That's why you can't drive.”
Both the Park County Sheriff's Office and Spencer (through his attorney) declined to comment for a Westword story published on April 21. But on April 25, the Sheriff’s Office took issue with that piece in a Facebook post:
“Regarding the issue of this being a hate crime or not: the District Attorney’s Office has reviewed all of the statements from everyone involved and have declined to press charges for a hate crime at this time, nor will they be charging the neighbor for his involvement in the incident (because he thought he was defending his neighbor),” the Sheriff's Office post says, urging others not to judge Park County based on this incident.
“These college students were simply going to a friend’s house for a get-together and when they got stuck, they unfortunately encountered a person who was completely out of line and apparently prejudiced,” it continues. “This one incident should not reflect badly on the citizens of Park County, nor Sheriff’s Office staff, as the majority of our citizens would have gladly helped them get their vehicle rolling again.”