Second defendant pleads guilty in Basalt assault case

Sentencing for Daniel Wettstein scheduled for June 30

Daniel Wettstein

The second defendant in a Basalt assault case in August 2020 entered a guilty plea Wednesday in Eagle County District Court and will be sentenced on June 30.

Daniel Wettstein, 36, pleaded guilty of second-degree assault by strangulation in a disposition agreed to by the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office and defense attorney Michael Fox. The felony charge carries a possible penalty of 2 to 8 years in the Colorado Department of Correction. However, the attorneys stipulated to a maximum range of 3 to 6 years and said prison time will not be mandatory. That means Fox could argue for probation at the sentencing hearing.

Fox said he wants to submit materials to Eagle County District Judge Paul Dunkelman prior to sentencing to help provide a broader understanding of the incident. Fox said the arrest affidavit submitted by law enforcement officers didn’t provide the whole picture of what happened.

“It’s significant in this case that the factual basis, I think, is substantially different than what the court knows about in this case,” Fox said. “We plan to submit a mitigation packet. Along with that we’d like to present some of the videos that were presented in this case.”

The content of the videos was not discussed.

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Police arrested Wettstein and co-defendant Mufasta Muhammad for allegedly holding a man against his willing during a night of partying Aug. 26, 2020, and into the next day. The man claimed he was held at gunpoint and beaten numerous times at the townhouse that Wettstein and Muhammad shared on Evans Court in Willits. The victim said he escaped through a second-story window early on the morning of Aug. 27, climbed down from the roof and sought help from a neighbor.

Wettstein was taken into custody when police responded and asked him to exit the residence. Muhammad remained in the house for an extended time. Police responded with an armored vehicle and SWAT team. Muhammad eventually surrendered without incident.

Wettstein bonded out of jail and entered a rehabilitation center for military veterans. Muhammad, 24, was sentenced to seven years in state prison on March 17.

Assistant District Attorney Johnny Lombardi and Fox outlined Wettstein’s potential plea deal at a May 5 hearing but the paperwork was not prepared so it was not formally entered. Dunkelman said at the time he was trying to determine if he would accept different sentences for the two defendants.

Muhammad pleaded guilty to second-degree assault, a crime of violence. The sentencing range was 7 to 10 years in state prison.

Wettstein pleaded guilty to a charge of second-degree assault by strangulation, which removed a sentencing enhancer.

Lombardi said at the May 5 hearing that a stronger sentence for Mohammed was justified because Muhammad had a criminal history while Wettstein did not. Lombardi also claimed Muhammad was the instigator in the beating of the victim.

The victim indicated at the May 5 hearing that he wants to speak at Wettstein’s sentencing hearing.

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