Alleged confession heard in Basalt stabbing case |

Alleged confession heard in Basalt stabbing case

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Ian Ranney

EAGLE, Colorado – Prosecutors tried to convince an Eagle County jury Wednesday that a man accused of ambushing his ex-girlfriend outside her Basalt-area mobile home in September 2008 planned in advance to kill her.

Ian Ranney, 26, formerly of Carbondale, is facing attempted first-degree murder among five felony charges. Prosecutors from the 5th Judicial District Attorney’s Office need to prove Ranney had planned in advance to kill the victim. Ranney contends he merely wanted to “scare” her.

Ranney was arrested on the same day of the attack, Sept. 29, 2008. He initially denied he was responsible for the brutal assault, but after an hour of questioning by Eagle County sheriff’s Detective Douglas Winters, Ranney allegedly confessed. An audio recording of the alleged confession was played for the jury Wednesday.

Ranney said he stayed outside a trailer at the Aspen-Basalt Mobile Home Park for roughly an hour before dawn, waiting for his ex-girlfriend to emerge. He allegedly lunged at her with a 12-inch kitchen knife when she left the trailer and walked toward her car.

The victim immediately screamed “murderer” when she saw him and put up her hands in defense, Ranney said in the alleged confession. Police say he acknowledged he made a slashing movement with the knife, but he also claimed the victim was responsible for some of her injuries because “she flailed her arms around a lot.”

Support Local Journalism

In a chilling exchange on the audio tape, Winters asked Ranney how many times he stabbed her. Ranney replied, “I wasn’t trying to stab her. I was trying to cut her.”

The victim was cut numerous times on her face, neck, hands and arms. Ranney said “it all happened so quick.”

“The intention to keep cutting her really wasn’t there,” he said.

Winters interviewed Ranney a second time four days after the arrest, and he videotaped that session. Winters suggested during the interview that the victim survived only because her roommate’s boyfriend came out of the trailer and yelled. “You met with resistance you didn’t anticipate,” Winters said.

Ranney allegedly confirmed that he got scared and ran away. He said he tossed the knife from his car, then went to work at a business in Basalt. Police arrested him there later that morning.

Ranney has been in jail since the arrest on $500,000 bond. He is also charged with felony menacing, first-degree assault, stalking causing emotional distress and a crime of violence.

Ranney was initially represented by the public defender’s office, but attorneys there withdrew because of a conflict. The nature of that conflict couldn’t be determined Wednesday. Ranney is now represented by Terry O’Connor and Brett Heckman, who were appointed by Judge Fred Gannett as alternative defense attorneys.

During the recordings played in the trial Wednesday, Ranney insisted he never planned to kill the victim. He claimed he wanted to scare her with the knife without her being able to identify him. They worked at the same business, so he fantasized that the frightened woman would come to work, turn to him for protection and regard him as her “hero,” he said.

“It got out of hand. I know it did,” Ranney said.

In the second interview, four days after the attack, Winters told Ranney he doubted parts of his original story. He accused Ranney of planning the attack in advance and intending to harm or kill the victim. He noted that Ranney had a change of clothes in his car, and that he didn’t stop the knife attack when it was apparent the victim was scared.

Ranney repeatedly expressed his love for the victim, claimed he wouldn’t hurt her and that he would do anything for her. His hope had been to enlist in the U.S. Army, earn enough money to buy her an engagement ring after basic training and prove his love for her. But he also allegedly acknowledged he was hurt by her cold shoulder after she broke up with him.

“When other people are around, she acts like I’m Satan,” Ranney said.

Winters told Ranney: “You have an obsession with her. You need help.”

Ranney is unlikely to testify in his defense, so the interviews were probably the only time the jury will hear from him.

The trial is scheduled to continue at least through Friday.

Support Local Journalism