Three years trimmed from beating sentence
Vail, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE ” After listening to more than two hours of tearful testimony from family and friends of both Brandon Robbins and the late Cody Wieland, Summit County District Judge David Lass sentenced Robbins to 25 years in prison on Tuesday ” a three-year reduction from his original punishment handed down almost three years ago.
For many who spoke on Tuesday, it was an emotional replay of Robbins’ first sentencing hearing in August 2004, at which time Lass gave him a 28-year prison term for his role in the 2002 fatal assault of Wieland, then 36. The Court of Appeals vacated the original sentence last August.
“It’s hard to have to keep revisiting Cody’s murder,” said a tearful Katherine Texel, Wieland’s widow ” who’s now remarried ” and mother of Wieland’s only child. “I try to look forward to the future rather than (focus) on the past.”
Lass handed Robbins the maximum 12-year penalty for manslaughter and 13 years for second degree assault with a deadly weapon ” to be served consecutively ” both charges Robbins pleaded guilty to in June 2004 as part of a plea agreement.
Even though Lass commended Robbins for being a model prisoner and taking every possible opportunity to educate himself while incarcerated, Lass said those merits relate more to a post-conviction sentence reconsideration, not a resentencing.
Lass weighed several factors in considering Robbins’ sentence: the gravity of the crime, injury to the victim, Robbins’ prior convictions (including a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge and DUI), his risk of future criminal conduct and potential for rehabilitation.
The seriousness of Robbins’ crime was the most dominant factor to weigh, Lass said.
“The court has an obligation to send a message to this community, visitors and others that this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable not only in this community, but in society as a whole,” Lass said.
Robbins’ attorney, Adam Tucker, said he was disappointed in Wednesday’s outcome and would consider all options available for future direction in the case, which includes appealing the sentence.
Robbins, 25, who did not speak at his first sentencing hearing almost three years ago, approached the microphone briefly Tuesday morning, starting off by apologizing to Wieland’s family.
Robbins said he took full responsibility for his role in Wieland’s death on Halloween night 2002, but that he didn’t instigate the fight that ultimately ended Wieland’s life.
He said he tried to break up the argument between Wieland and Brian Stockdale ” who’s serving a 26-and-a-half year sentence for his role in Wieland’s death ” but failed, and the two charged each other on Main Street in Breckenridge outside a now-defunct eatery where the altercation began.
The two men became entangled and Stockdale began yelling for help.
“I didn’t want to get involved in the fight. I just wanted Mr. Wieland to stop hitting my friend, Mr. Stockdale, in the face,” Robbins said.
Robbins hit Wieland with a Kevlar army helmet on the back of the head, according to previous testimony in the case.
Robbins said he didn’t kick Wieland while he was on the ground, as eyewitness accounts indicated, and had no idea how badly Wieland was hurt until he read about his grave condition in the newspaper.
Robbins’ statements followed several tear-filled testimonials by his mother, aunt, brother and close friend, all pleading with Lass for leniency.
“Brandon is a rare, unique young man,” Robbins’ aunt Donnetta Guthrie said. “He’s honest and genuine to the core. … He’s one of the most compassionate human beings I’ve ever known.”
Testimony from the prosecution’s side was just as emotional, with Wieland’s mother, Jocelan Martell, reading a letter she wrote to her deceased son to express her feelings. She also showed a 5-minute video displaying pictures of Wieland’s life as a boy growing up in the Pacific Northwest, of his wedding day, holding his first-born baby boy and ending with a photo of Wieland on life support after the assault.
One interesting fact revealed during Wednesday’s hearing was that the Robbins’ purchased Martell’s home last year when she was facing foreclosure so she could continue living there. Robbins’ mother, Carla, said they use rental income from a home Brandon built before he went to prison to pay Martell’s mortgage.