Because the case is ongoing, much of the court file is closed to the public, including the search and arrest warrants, which have been sealed. For that reason, many questions about the night, such as what led up to the deadly encounter, remain unanswered.
Breckenridge police chief Rick Holman believes the fight stemmed from an altercation that had occurred a week or two earlier. While out celebrating a birthday, one of the suspects ran into Wieland on the street, and "some words were exchanged," says Holman, who isn't sure whether the incident entailed anything physical. "Then they recognized him a week later, and there was a comment that sparked it off." (The only suspect whose birthday was around that time is Robbins, who turned 21 on October 11.)
Sergeant Quesada testified that Dietert had gone alone to Mambo's, where he ran into Stockdale and Robbins. The other two, she said, pointed Wieland out to Dietert. A recent article in the Summit Daily News, citing previous court appearances in the matter, states that Robbins and Stockdale were already arguing with Wieland when Dietert arrived. Dietert's attorney, Daniel Recht, says his client had never met Wieland before that night and that Dietert, Robbins and Stockdale "were acquaintances at best."
Why Dietert would help two men he barely knows beat another man to death is unclear, as is much of the three men's backgrounds. Stockdale, whose last known address was in Silverthorne, has no prior criminal history in Colorado, but this wasn't Dietert's or Robbins's first brush with the law.
Dietert has been arrested in the past for second-degree burglary, larceny, underage alcohol consumption, driving under the influence, possessing marijuana, speeding and other driving-related offenses. Robbins was pulled over in January 2001 in Steamboat Springs for drinking and driving. And when a police officer came to his Breckenridge apartment last July to respond to a noise complaint, she noticed a film canister containing what looked like marijuana; when she asked Robbins whether he had any more, he showed her the closet where he was growing three pot plants. He was later arrested for cultivation of marijuana.
Robbins is the nephew of Sharon Garrison, the victim in another high-profile Summit County murder case. Sharon disappeared on September 26, 2000; her body was found 21 days later in the front yard of her home, just outside the Breckenridge city limits. Sharon's husband, Chuck Garrison, was sentenced last April to thirty years in prison for her murder. The couple had apparently been arguing when Chuck killed Sharon with a miner's pick, then wrapped her body in a tarp and buried her by their driveway.
"When the Robbins family was victimized by the murder of Sharon...Brandon was there for his mother to support her," family friend Beth May wrote the court in a letter in Robbins's behalf. "I sat with the family in court on the day of the sentencing hearing of Chuck Garrison and never saw anything but grief on Brandon's face. Afterward, I went to the family's Breckenridge home and never heard a violent statement uttered by Brandon." (Robbins's mother, Carla, was present for his preliminary hearing, as were several other family members, who politely declined to comment on the young man's case.)
Steve Moran, the principal of Colorado Springs's Pine Creek High School, which Robbins attended, also wrote a letter in support of the young man. "Brandon was always a very positive individual in my school," Moran wrote. "He had some discipline issues that dealt with truancy. However, he never had any anti-social or violence issues and was always easy to talk to and befriended all those around him."
Not much is known about the man who lost his life as a result of the fight. Martell said at the hearing that she'd be happy to talk about her son when the case is over. Wieland leaves behind a wife, Katie, and their two-year-old son, Bohdan.
Last Sunday was the Sunday of Sundays; all the saloons in town were closed and their usual habituates were compelled to loaf around the streets. Miners, in from the hills, stood upon the sidewalks looking wistfully to the right or left for some retreat from a condition of misery.... The workings of law here was such as to show the sheer nonsense of such legislation for a camp in the midst of the mountains. The law was conceived in the brain of a fanatic, enacted by a body of imbeciles, signed by a doughface, and in a camp like Breckenridge would be enforced only by an impracticable enthusiast. Monday last, a mournful cuss brought in twenty-four stanzas of alleged poetry, of which the following six lines are a fair sample: