Carbondale man convicted of first-degree attempted murder
EAGLE, Colorado – A Carbondale man was convicted of first-degree attempted murder Thursday night for a crime of passion in the Basalt area that nearly led to the death of his ex-girlfriend.
Ian Ranney, 26, faces up to 48 years in prison. The 12-member jury also found him guilty of first-degree assault, menacing with a deadly weapon and stalking. A fifth charge, crime of violence, was wrapped into the attempted murder charge.
Prosecutors convinced the jury that Ranney intended to kill his former girlfriend when he ambushed her before dawn on Sept. 29, 2008. Eagle County Assistant District Attorney Scott Turner said Ranney was “obsessed” with the victim and upset she broke up with him.
“If he couldn’t have her, nobody will” was his attitude, Turner said.
Ranney’s court-appointed attorneys tried to convince the jury that Ranney simply meant to scare the victim. “There was no intent at all to hurt [the victim],” said Terry O’Connor, one of Ranney’s attorneys. “Mr. Ranney cannot explain. Basically, something went wrong.”
Ranney waited outside his ex-girlfriend’s home at the Aspen-Basalt Mobile Home Park and lunged at her with a knife when she emerged to go to work, according to his taped confession played at the trial. Ranney told investigators he held a 12-inch knife in his right hand as he approached her. The victim saw him and screamed “murderer,” Ranney said. He admitted grabbing her and cutting her an unknown number of times.
Ranney fled when the boyfriend of the victim’s roommate came out of the trailer and yelled at him.
The trial started Monday. In closing arguments Thursday afternoon, Turner and Eagle County Deputy D.A. Anne Francis seared images of the brutality of the attack into the minds of jurors. Turner used a large overhead screen to show a picture of the victim while she was recovering in the hospital. She had a deep gash that essentially obliterated her cheek, running from her nose to behind her ear.
Turner reminded the jury that the doctor who treated the victim testified during the trial that the knife came within one-eighth of an inch of severing an artery and killing the woman.
“She fought back, and she’s here today,” Francis told the jury.
O’Connor said the trial wasn’t a “whodunnit case.” Ranney admitted he was responsible for the victim’s injuries and acknowledged he should be punished, his attorney said.
“He’s guilty of menacing. We’re going to give you that,” O’Connor said.
But he argued Ranney wasn’t guilty of first-degree attempted murder or first-degree assault because it wasn’t his intent to harm the woman.
If Ranney really had intended to kill her, he would have taken a butcher knife, carving knife of a gun rather than a “bread knife” to her house, the attorney said.
Francis retorted a short time later by holding up the 12-inch, blood-encrusted knife, which was wrapped in plastic.
“This knife was held firmly against [the victim’s] neck, back and forth, back and forth,” Francis said while making a sawing motion. The pressure during the attack was so intense it bent the tip of the knife, she said.
To graphically drive home the point of Ranney’s determination, Francis noted that the victim begged for her life.
“She said, ‘I don’t want to die. Please don’t let me die.’ Then there was a pause. The sawing stopped. Then it started again,” Francis said.
Ranney, who has been in custody since the day of the ambush, shook his head negatively while Francis talked about his intent to harm the victim. He didn’t show emotion when the verdicts were read.
The jury deliberated a little more than two hours. The victim attended the entire trial and testified against Ranney. Friends embraced her outside of the courtroom Thursday night.
Eagle County District Judge Fred Gannett indicated sentencing for Ranney will likely be in February or March.
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