Man pleads guilty to stabbing Avon woman in exchange for 20-year sentence
Sentencing hearing set for March 19 in case where jogger was attacked on her morning run
EAGLE — With the promise of a sentence of 20 years behind bars, the defendant in the May 31 Avon stabbing case pleaded guilty to first-degree assault on Monday.
At the hearing, Judge Russell H. Granger made it clear that in cases where the defendant has pleaded guilty to charges that contain stipulated sentences, the court can still decide that the sentencing is too lenient in the sentencing hearing. In such cases, the defendant would have the opportunity to withdraw the plea.
Sharing in detail her account of how she went from jogging on a trail to her running for her life on May 31, the victim said she would be willing to testify at a trial if it would create a longer sentence.
Granger applauded her for her willingness to speak out.
“A lot of victims don’t want to go to trial and defendants end up with pleas that are favorable because the prosecution doesn’t have a witness strong enough to go to trial,” Granger said.
In this case, however, Granger said he thought the 20-year sentence is “in the ballpark of somewhere around where it probably would end up being” if the case went to trial.
However, Granger added, “the court knows the case much, much better after a long trial … Sometimes that works in the defendant’s benefit, sometimes it doesn’t.”
A sentencing hearing was set for March 19 at 1 p.m.
In questioning whether or not her testimony would help in creating a longer sentence, the victim laid out a few personal concerns with the case. She addressed the defendant directly.
“I need to know when you woke up that morning if it was premeditated, if you were just looking for me or would there have been others,” she said.
In describing the details of the attack – she was jogging, heard the assailant approach from behind, turned around to feel the knife go through her chest to her back, then ran another 75 yards while being stabbed in the back repeatedly — the victim said she felt the incident happened to her because she could survive it.
“There were women pushing baby strollers that morning, there were younger people running before work, there were elderly people with their little dogs on the side of the trail,” she said.
She asked if everyone in the area was an “able target,” and also asked why the defendant was in Avon that morning.
Granger said those were good questions, and asked if the defendant, Andrew Young, would be willing to write a letter to the victim answering those questions.
Young’s attorney said some of the victim’s questions will be answered in the sentencing hearing and the days leading up to it.
“This was not a targeted matter, the defendant did not know who she was,” Young’s attorney told Granger. “Whether that makes things better or worse as far as the unique nature of it … is for the court, but I can assure her that now we can surely get to more of that, in terms of addressing the underlying circumstances, at sentencing.”
Other answers may never be known.
“At the end of the day, unfortunately, we are most likely not going to be left with a lot of pinpoint explanation as to how this could happen,” Young’s attorney said. “The case does fall shy of an insanity standard, however mental health concerns, as well as substance abuse, have a lot to do with the act itself.”
Seventy-eight years after he was convicted of homicide in the death of an Eagle County lawman, James “Mad Dog” Sherbondy was implicated in the murder of a Denver detective.