GLENWOOD SPRINGS — District Attorney Sherry Caloia said Tuesday she is dismissing the current case against James McCabe Mallin in connection with the shooting death last week of his girlfriend, and is having him released from the Garfield County Jail while the investigation continues.
Mallin, 28, had been held on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder for the shooting of Audrey Lowndes, 40, at the mobile home where they lived on South Grand Avenue, just before 12:30 a.m. on April 15.
Mallin was arrested shortly thereafter, while Lowndes, who had been shot in the back of the head, later died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
“At this point, we don’t have enough evidence to hold him,” Caloia said after filing a motion in Garfield District Court to have charges of attempted first-degree murder dropped at this time.
“Personally, I don’t want him to stay in jail or pay a bond, when we don’t have enough evidence to charge him,” she said, noting that police are still awaiting results of crime scene testing, including blood-alcohol testing, fingerprinting and ballistics.
Meanwhile, the Glenwood Springs Police Department is continuing its investigation into Lowndes’ death. That investigation could take several more weeks to complete, Caloia said.
“Right now, there is really a question of whether this was an accident,” Caloia added.
After police were called to the scene by a third resident of the home, Lowndes was found in a rear bedroom laying face-up with a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Mallin was nearby, according to a police affidavit.
Mallin was arrested shortly after the incident on preliminary charges of first-degree attempted murder, as well as assault and weapons charges.
Mallin told police he had been drinking with his father and the roommate when he went to check on Lowndes and found her sitting in the bedroom holding his .22-caliber rifle.
He indicated in the police interview that the gun fired accidentally when he attempted to take it from her. However, the roommate indicated to police that he heard the two arguing for about 15 minutes prior to the gunshot.
Lowndes was taken to Valley View Hospital and later airlifted to St. Mary’s, where she died later that day.
Formal charges had not yet been filed in the case, and a court hearing was previously scheduled for Wednesday to consider what charges to file.
Caloia indicated after Lowndes’ death that it could end up being a first-degree murder case. Instead, Mallin, who was being held on $25,000 bond, was released Tuesday due to insufficient evidence and pending further police investigation.
Caloia also said she is still awaiting the coroner’s official ruling on the cause of death, which could point to an accidental shooting. She did not rule out possible new charges against Mallin in the case, even if the shooting is ruled accidental.
“Additional investigation and information and will be reviewed when they are submitted to our office,” Caloia said in a news release.