Colby Messer Update: Why DA Dropped One of Year's Most Disturbing Cases

Update: In March, the Denver District Attorney's Office announced the filing of six sexual-assault counts against Canada's Colby Messer in relation to alleged activities at the Grand Hyatt the previous November.

The details contained in a police report on view below made it one of this year's most disturbing stories — and each count against Messer could have resulted in a sentence of life in prison.

Now, however, the DA's office has announced that it's dropping all charges in the matter, in part because of DNA results that weren't available until after the original filing.

"This is not to pass a judgement on the victim," stresses Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office. "It's just to say that we were no longer able to meet the burden of proof."

For his part, attorney Ken Eichner, who represents Messer, acknowledges that he's "unbelievably grateful and relieved" by the decision not to prosecute. But, he adds, "obviously, the case never should have been charged."

As we've reported, the incident in question allegedly took place between 11 p.m. on November 14, 2015, and 2 a.m. the following morning.

A woman told investigators with the Denver Police Department that she and a friend had made plans to go to the ViewHouse downtown to watch a UFC fight. But as they walked down Market Street, they encountered two "attractive white males" from Canada who offered to buy them drinks at the Tavern, at 1949 Market — and they did.

From there, the group, which ultimately included Messer and three fellow Canadians, went to the Grand Hyatt Hotel, at 1750 Welton Street.

The events that followed are described in our earlier post and the aforementioned arrest affidavit. But they included alleged sexual assaults using objects found in the hotel room.

Afterward, the men went back to Canada. But Messer was arrested upon returning to the U.S. in March. He flew into Las Vegas, where he was reportedly planning to propose to his fiancee.

The preliminary hearing in the case was spread over two days: August 4 and August 29. During that hearing, Eichner notes, four out of the six sexual-assault charges fell by the wayside.

However, enough probable cause was found to sustain two others under what Kimbrough describes as "the complicity theory."

This particular avenue was potentially problematic from the start given that Messer was the only one of the Canadians charged with a crime. But other factors were even more important, in Eichner's view.

"There was no DNA from Colby anywhere on her body and no DNA on any of these objects," he points out. "That corroborated what Colby told the detective when he was locked up. He said, 'I was drinking. I was passed out.'"

Moreover, Eichner continues, "there was no identification by two people, including her friend, who was up in the room and who we called at the preliminary hearing."

Kimbrough confirms that "we did not have the DNA results back" when Messer was charged, "and we also did not have information from a witness. That witness provided new information, and so did the victim."

Prosecutors remain convinced that "something happened in that hotel room," Kimbrough goes on. "It was clear from her injuries. But we just got to the point with the information we had in the case that we no longer could prove what was alleged to have happened."

No charges have been filed against the other three men, nor are they likely to be. As Kimbrough puts it, "The investigation is over."

Eichner isn't planning to sue the City of Denver over how the case played out — such actions aren't his area of specialty — and he declines to speculate about whether there's enough evidence to justify such an approach. "This kind of thing can happen sometimes, and it can happen in both directions," he allows. "You just get caught up in the big view instead of drilling down on things and looking at the facts."

Nonetheless, he says, Messer and his family are "ecstatic" over the latest development. "This is a sterling citizen who can now resume his life in Canada and clear up his reputation."

And the victim? Says Kimbrough: "In the interest of both Mr. Messer's privacy and the victim's privacy, it wouldn't serve a good purpose for me to go into further detail."

Here's the arrest affidavit.

Colby Messer Affidavit

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts