Serious crimes on the rise, report shows |

Serious crimes on the rise, report shows

Christine Ina Casillas Daily Staff Writer

“We’re seeing more and more serious crimes in the district,” said District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. “We’re getting more people, resulting in more crimes.”

Overall the caseload increased by 4.8 percent, or by 551 cases, from 2002 to 2003, according to the report. Criminal data gathered during the year regarding is broken down into key area in the report, which was released last week. It covers the four counties in Hurlbert’s Fifth Judicial District: Eagle, Summit, Lake and Clear Creek.

Nearly every county in the district was touched by a homicide or similar violent case in 2003. The only category that saw a small decline was in a category called “non-domestic violence misdemeanor cases,” which dropped by 2.2 percent.

Driving under the influence of alcohol, or DUI, saw the biggest jump at 9.6 percent, followed by juvenile crimes at 7.7 percent.

In Eagle County, prosecutors experienced a slight overall increase their criminal caseloads, which rose by 1.5 percent – or 65 cases. The biggest increase in came in domestic violence and DUI cases, which saw a 9.8 percent increase. The biggest drop came in juvenile cases, which fell by 12.7 percent. Misdemeanors also decreased.

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“There has been more violent sexual assault cases than ever before,” Hurlbert said. “And it’s not only acquaintance rapes we’re seeing.”

In the sole murder trial in Eagle County last year, rancher Kathy Denson was acquitted in the shooting death of an ex-boyfriend. Meanwhile, the Kobe Bryant sexual assault case landed in Eagle County court last summer.

“The more serious of the crimes usually are seen closer to Denver, but we’re seeing them more now than in the past,” Hurlbert said. “Eagle County is not an urban area, but it’s getting more urban-type crimes.”

While Eagle County has seen a rise in more serious crimes, Summit County’s numbers decreased.

“The decrease in cases in Summit County is surprising,” Hurlbert said.

Summit County faced an overall decrease in cases of 1.8 percent, or 72 cases. Every category there saw a decrease except domestic violence and juvenile cases, where there was slight increase.

“Theft cases are down pretty much across the board, and I don’t know why really,” Hurlbert said.

Lake County, home to Leadville, experienced the largest increase in cases in the district, both as a percentage – 27.6 percent – and raw cases, 291. The highest increase was in felonies and juvenile crimes. There were 51 more felonies in 2003 and 22 more juvenile cases in Lake County.

Christine Ina Casillas can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 607, or at

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