Charle and Siller released
DA agrees to let men go
Steamboat Springs — Giles Charle and David Siller walked out of the Routt County Jail on Wednesday after the District Attorney’s Office took the extraordinary step of reducing their six-month jail sentences to the 10 days they had spent in jail.
“We’ve had a lot of mood swings in the last 24 hours,” Siller said.
Added Charle, “Our hopes were down and then all of a sudden, it’s all over. We were really beginning to accept that this was going to be our home for a while.”
Charle, 24, of Somersworth, N.H., and Siller, 27, of Wayne, Pa., pleaded guilty last week to misdemeanor trespass and were sentenced to six months in jail as part of a plea agreement reached with the District Attorney’s Office. They said they accepted the plea because they didn’t want to risk being convicted of a felony.
The men have maintained that they took food only from the trash area at Sweet Pea Produce. Police and prosecutors maintain that the men stole fresh produce from inside the store.
Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James on Wednesday sent a letter to defense attorney Wayne Westphale offering to reduce the sentences. In the letter, St. James wrote: “We will agree to a stipulated reduction of sentence in these two cases to the time that the defendants have served in the Routt County Jail. I have prepared a stipulation reflecting the agreement.”
Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink declined comment Wednesday about the decision, saying her office’s position was stated in the letter.
“It does now, however, appear that based upon incomplete and incorrect information, a portion of the community has committed to a view of this case and its outcome,” St. James wrote. “My office will not be able to change this misperception. It is clear the portion of the community reacting to that misinformation wishes a different outcome.”
He added, “While my office continues to persist in its contention that this was a burglary case and that your clients unlawfully entered the interior of the store, we are willing to compromise our position and hope that the message still remains that it is unacceptable to burglarize a local business.”
Westphale, who was waiting outside the jail Wednesday to make sure the men had a ride, said he was ecstatic for the sudden turn of events, especially because the DA’s Office had drawn a hard line Tuesday.
“I’m happy for these guys that they’re finally being released,” he said.
The men served three days in jail when they first were arrested and seven days of their sentence.
“I think (what they’ve served) is still a bit much, but I’m happy the way it turned around,” Westphale said. “Ten days is much better than 180. A lot happened to them for Dumpster diving.”
The men agreed.
“The whole thing was too much. We’ve been trapped in Steamboat two months because we were in court every week,” Charle said.
Although the men have been released from jail, they will still have the misdemeanor conviction on their records. The DA’s Office would not change the men’s conviction to a deferred judgment, Westphale said.
The misdemeanor conviction was a better deal than the deferred felony agreement the DA’s Office offered. That deal included two years of supervised probation, Westphale said.
The men said they understood St. James was doing his job, but they were also glad he changed his mind, if not about the crime they committed, then about their sentence.
“We’re glad he saw the truth for what the truth was,” Siller said.
Charle’s mother, Shaune McCarthy Charle, said from her New Hampshire home on Wednesday that she was disappointed her daughter and husband weren’t home when she got the call the men had been released.
“Oh my God. Jesus. I just can’t believe it,” she said. “I guess there is justice in the world after all.”
Shaune Charle said she couldn’t thank enough all the people who stood up for her son and Siller. Their story ran in newspapers across the country and hundreds of people sent e-mails and posted message on steamboatpilot.com on behalf of the men.
In his letter, St. James said “great media coverage” influenced Wednesday’s decision. He said the bulk of that coverage was one-sided.
Upon his release, Siller said he was headed home to Pennsylvania. Charle said he may do more traveling.
The men said they would consider returning to Steamboat Springs, and they encourage people who have threatened boycotting the city or Sweet Pea Produce not to do so.
“We know that this was a touchy issue for the town. We knew coming into town (in June) that the entire town was on edge because the Rainbow (Family of Living Light) group was in town,” Siller said. “We want the town to know we are very thankful to everyone who cared enough to read about our story and speak up about their concerns.”
– To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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