Charges Dismissed in Colorado Assault Case Against Jon Spencer | Westword
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Charges Dismissed in Park County Cabin Assault Case Against Jon Spencer

The evidence was too inconsistent to move forward.
Debbie Stafford's cabin in Bailey was previously a peaceful retreat for her family.
Debbie Stafford's cabin in Bailey was previously a peaceful retreat for her family. Debbie Stafford

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On March 18, 2022, five Community College of Aurora students planned to film a movie at a cabin in Bailey for a class assignment.

But the students say that a man, later identified as Jon Spencer, confronted 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 just up the road, says that Spencer seemed 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; three of the students were injured. Spencer was arrested the next day in connection with the incident and charged with two counts of assault and five counts of harassment. On January 3, Linda Stanley, the district attorney for Colorado’s 11th Judicial District, moved to dismiss the case in a status conference before the trial, which had been scheduled to begin February 2.

The defense found inconsistencies in evidence that an investigator from the DA’s office corroborated.

“It’s the inconsistencies that the investigation had found that make it a reasonable unlikelihood of any kind of success at trial,” Stanley explained. “Additionally, along with the ethical obligations, I simply cannot proceed if I don't believe that I have enough evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Ehren Penix, a partner in the Whitaker & Penix firm representing Spencer, explained that the 911 calls and the written witness statements submitted the next morning by the five students didn’t add up to a plausible sequence of events, arguing that the statements appear to have been written by one person, potentially Stafford-Mustacchio, rather than five. Stafford-Mustacchio noted that their statements weren’t taken until 24 hours after the incident because Park County Sheriff’s Office deputies who responded didn’t have the proper equipment to take statements.

Throughout the legal process, Stafford-Mustacchio argued that Spencer should have been charged with a hate crime in addition to assault, as he allegedly had told the Black driver of the car that she was a “dumb Black bitch.” Penix said that allegation caused negative repercussions in Spencer’s life.

“His name has been dragged through the mud in the press,” Penix said. “His business has been receiving anonymous one-star Google ratings online saying it’s a racist business.”

Stafford-Mustacchio and the other two female students spoke at the hearing, expressing that they couldn’t believe the case was being dismissed. Benson, the driver who got stuck in the snow, said she legally changed her first and last name because she feared Spencer might try to find her.

Stafford-Mustacchio and her family members who were at the hearing requested a continuance or special prosecutor to be appointed, but Judge Brian Green ruled that the motion to dismiss the case could stand.

“Though the court did find probable cause based on the warrantless arrest affidavit, the district attorney has made a credible statement as to why she believes she would not be able to prove these charges beyond a reasonable doubt were she to proceed to trial,” Green said. “Defense counsel has put on the record numerous evidentiary concerns that were considered by the prosecutor. There is no evidence of bad faith.”

There will be a hearing on the sealing of court records in 45 days. The court had placed a restraining order on Spencer that is now no longer in effect.
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