Attorney: Wrong man charged in stabbing | SteamboatToday.com
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Attorney: Wrong man charged in stabbing

Susan Cunningham

The case against a man accused of stabbing a Yampa resident three times was moved to District Court after a preliminary hearing Wednesday that lasted more than two hours.

Routt County Judge James Garrecht also decided not to lower a $100,000 bond holding Christopher Padilla, 32, of Yampa, in jail.

During the hearing, several witnesses described what happened late on July 4 outside the Royal Hotel in Yampa, a course of events that resulted in Padilla’s arrest on suspicion of stabbing Charles Porteus, 29, in the back and side. Padilla is being charged with first-degree assault, a Class 3 felony.

Public Attorney Gail Morrison, who is representing Padilla, said the wrong man has been charged in the stabbing.

“They have the wrong person, and they don’t have a deadly weapon,” Morrison said during Wednesday’s preliminary hearing.

Testimony during the preliminary hearing did not establish that Padilla stabbed Porteus, Morrison said, but instead suggested there could be an alternative suspect.

“The prosecution has failed to investigate this case,” Morrison said.

In a preliminary hearing, the prosecution only has to prove there is probable cause a suspect committed a crime, and the judge must view evidence in a light most favorable to the prosecution, Garrecht said.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James argued that standard had been met. Dave Miller, an off-duty reserve police officer from Ault, testified that he saw Padilla holding a knife after the fight in which Porteus was stabbed. Also, Porteus pointed to Padilla and told Miller that was who stabbed him, Miller testified.

Although the incident was not on “videotape,” all indications point to Padilla as the suspect, St. James said.

Garrecht ruled that there is probable cause Padilla committed the crime and that the deadly weapon used was a knife. He set a District Court hearing for 1 p.m. Aug. 13.

Garrecht also ruled that Padilla’s $100,000 bond should not be reduced for two key reasons. First, if Padilla is convicted, he would face a mandatory prison sentence of 10 years, and second, Padilla has a history of not appearing for previous court charges, Garrecht said.

During the preliminary hearing, several witnesses testified, including Miller and a woman who said she witnessed the fight.

Through their testimony, the judge heard a pieced-together version of what could have happened that night. A dispute started inside the Royal Hotel and was taken out to the street, witness Jessica Hodom told the court.

Four men were involved in the physical fight, including Porteus and Padilla. The men ended up in a pile on the street with Porteus on top, Hodom said. Hodom said she did not see any weapon and didn’t see “anybody stab anybody.”

Miller said he saw part of the fight from inside the Royal Hotel bar and observed Porteus walk away bleeding. When he asked Porteus who stabbed him, Porteus pointed to Padilla, who was standing in a group of people several yards away and appeared to be holding a pocketknife, Miller said.

Miller then got his handgun and handcuffs, attempted to arrest Padilla, and saw blood on Padilla’s hands, but another person pushed Miller out of the way saying that Miller didn’t have jurisdiction in Routt County, Miller said.

Padilla reportedly ran to his home on Lincoln Avenue, which police later surrounded before arresting him. When arrested, Padilla had cuts on his left hand and on the back of his left leg, according to a police report.

Porteus returned to work two days after the stabbing, according to the Routt County Sheriff’s Office.

— To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com


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