Man gets 42-year sentence in Basalt murder attempt
EAGLE, Colo. – Ian Michael Ranney was sentenced to 42 years in prison Thursday for ambushing and brutally attacking his ex-girlfriend in a Basalt-area trailer park in September 2008.
Eagle County District Judge Fred Gannett said the “sheer viciousness” of the attack warranted the sentence. The evidence indicated Ranney intended to kill his ex-girlfriend.
“You were on the cusp of accomplishing the goal,” Gannett told Ranney.
A jury found Ranney guilty in January of first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, menacing with a deadly weapon and stalking.
Gannett sentenced Ranney to 36 years on the attempted murder charge. Additionally, he issued a 6-year prison sentence for the menacing conviction, and 24 years for the menacing charge. Those sentences, however, will be served concurrently with the 36 years, meaning they won’t add to the sentence.
But Gannett added another six years to the sentence on the stalking conviction, boosting the total to 42 years.
The victim was in the courtroom for the sentencing and she exchanged hugs and embraces with roughly 20 friends and family members.
“I believe in the justice system,” the victim said outside the courtroom. “Justice was served.”
The victim asked Gannett at the sentencing hearing to send Ranney to prison for the maximum time possible, which was 48 years in this case. She remained calm and composed while speaking less than 20 feet from her attacker. Two jail deputies were in the courtroom.
The victim credited God, her family, friends and “my own determination” for surviving the attack and aftermath.
“I didn’t know my own strength until the morning of the attack,” she said.
Ranney, 26, also spoke at the hearing. His comments were directed to the victim, but he purposely looked ahead at the judge rather than behind to where the victim was seated.
“I’m sorry for everything you’ve experienced both physically and emotionally,” Ranney said.
He then professed his on-going love for the victim and wished her “a long, fruitful life.” He repeated something he said he told her when they first started dating – he would do whatever possible for her if she ever asked.
Key evidence at Ranney’s trial showed he stopped his knife attack temporarily as the victim begged for her life, but then he resumed. Gannett cited that evidence as significant as he read the sentence. He said it showed Ranney had time to reflect on his actions. Once he did, he continued on the path chosen.
Ranney drove from his apartment in Carbondale to the victim’s residence at the Aspen-Basalt Mobile Home Park shortly before dawn on Sept. 29, 2008, a weekday. He knew her routine and waited for her to go to work. When she emerged, he popped out from his hiding place, then slashed and sawed at her face, neck and hands numerous times, testimony in the trial established. He attacked with a 12-inch bread knife.
The victim yelled “murderer” and threw up her arms and hands to defend herself. Ranney fled when the boyfriend of the victim’s roommate ran out of the trailer. Ranney was later arrested without incident at the Basalt business where he worked.
Gannett said yesterday that evidence at the trial showed the knife strikes came within millimeters of severing an artery and that the victim also would have died if she lost another quart of blood or less.
The victim said she is reminded of the attack every time she looks in the mirror and sees the permanent scars. Gannett told her what she should see is a young woman of “great courage and tenacity.”
“That cosmetic stuff, in the big scheme of things, is small potatoes,” Gannett said.
Prosecutors Scott Turner and Anne Francis asked Gannett to sentence Ranney to the full 48 years. The range was 16 to 48 years. Terry O’Connor, a court-appointed attorney for Ranney, asked for the lower end of the range. He said Ranney didn’t premeditate murder
“When Mr. Ranney got up in the morning, it was not his intent to kill anyone,” O’Connor said.
Ranney confessed to the attack during the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office investigation. He fought the charges on grounds that the attack wasn’t attempted murder. He claimed he intended to scare his former girlfriend. He wore clothing designed to conceal his identity and he wanted to stage what appeared to be an anonymous attack. He figured the event would scare his ex-girlfriend so severely that she would come running back to him for protection.
O’Connor said Ranney “snapped” during the attack and took it further than he intended.
Gannett said he doubted the “white knight” story. If it is true, it is “despicable,” he said.
Instead, the judge said the motive was driven by “massively distorted affection.” He said Ranney basically threw his life away. He had no prior criminal history. His job history was stable. He has a young daughter.
“I believe it’s a life lost,” Gannett said.