Crime

Park County Harassment Case Set for September Hearing

On March 18, five Community College of Aurora students headed to a cabin in Bailey to film a movie for a class assignment. But 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 state 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, during which three of the students were injured.

In the 11th District Court on July 12, Judge Brian Green set the case for another hearing on September 20. That's when District Attorney Linda Stanley, whose law license was recently suspended for non-compliance with continuing-education requirements, and Spencer’s attorney, Kylie Whitaker, will have to either agree to enter a plea or set the case for trial.

“We have an investigator looking into a lot of different things, so we just need some more time,” Whitaker told the judge. “I think the court knows that this is a complicated case, and it's not the type of case we're gonna be able to wrap up really quickly.” Stanley agreed, confirming that various investigations are still taking place.

When Stafford-Mustacchio expressed frustration with the timeline being pushed back, the judge noted that cases with fact patterns like this one often require extra time.

Stafford-Mustacchio also took issue with the district attorney’s handling of the case, saying she’s struggled to communicate with the office and with the victims' advocate, and has had trouble getting answers to her questions about the case.

Spencer is currently facing seven counts, with two related to assault on the male students and five related to harassment of each of the students.

Stafford-Mustacchio thinks that Spencer should also be charged with assault for how he handled her, and with a hate crime for harassing 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.”

Stanley said that the last time she'd heard from Stafford-Mustacchio was in May. “We haven't been negotiating on anything yet,” she said in court. “There's been no offer made on the case and no new negotiations with Mr. Spencer's attorney, so I'm not required to let her know that."

Stanley will be required to let the victims know if and when negotiations on a plea agreement take place, Green pointed out, so Stafford-Mustacchio should have some of her questions answered by that September 20 court date.