Man charged in January shooting south of Steamboat claims self-defense in motion to dismiss case

DA Matt Karzen said his office plans to oppose the defense's motion to dismiss

The Routt County man charged in the shooting of an unarmed man outside his home in January says the shooting was in self-defense, according to a motion to dismiss the case filed by defense lawyers on Friday, Sept. 16.

William Bryce Scholle, 40, was charged with two felonies — first-degree assault and menacing — and misdemeanor prohibited use of a firearm in May, stemming from the Jan. 29 incident that wounded a 29-year-old man outside Scholle’s home about nine miles south of Steamboat Springs.

The filing points to Colorado’s Force Against Intruder’s Defense statute, saying that Scholle’s alleged shooting of the man was justified under Colorado law.

“As regrettable as the incident was, the evidence will demonstrate that Mr. Scholle was legally entitled to shoot the intruder under Colorado’s Force Against Intruders Defense,” the filing reads.

Matt Karzen, District Attorney for the 14th Judicial District who filed the charges in May, said in an email that his office plans to oppose the defense’s motion to dismiss.

“We will file a detailed written response in opposition to the motion with the court,” Karzan said.

Scholle and his legal representation from Denver-based law firm Brownstein, Hyatt, Farber and Schreck declined to comment about the filing on Monday, Sept 19.

According to the motion to dismiss, Jan. 29 was the first night in the house for Scholle and his family, which included his 41-year-old wife and two daughters between the ages of 10 and 12.

The family first noticed a car near the house after it had already come up the long gravel driveway and veered off around the house, the filing says. The car eventually got stuck in the snow near a walk out living area in the back of the home, near where Scholle and his daughter were in bathing suits about to use the hot tub.

The filing says that Scholle feared for his family’s safety and went to his wife’s truck parked in the driveway to retrieve a handgun. He returned to the patio area and demanded the driver get back in his vehicle, last week’s filing says. At this same time is when Scholle’s wife calls 911.

The arrest affidavit filed in April says that Scholle didn’t know the driver, but that the driver stated he was a neighbor.

That April affidavit states that when Scholle’s wife called 911, she said “I have no idea why this is happening,” and when asked by the dispatcher if the driver was armed, she replied “No, there is a drunk man in my backyard, get here now.”

The affidavit makes no mention that Scholle asked the man to return to his car, with the narrative of the situation in that document saying Scholle told investigators that night that he made the driver walk from the snowy area near his car to a patio area closer to the hot tub.

The defense’s motion states that when the driver didn’t return to the vehicle, Scholle repeatedly ordered them to get on the ground in the patio area. When the driver got on the ground, the defense filing says Scholle backed into the threshold of the sliding glass door.

Then, the defense filing says the driver yelled “I’m not going to stay on the ground,” and lunged toward Scholle, who fired a single shot at the abdomen of the driver. After the driver had been shot and was on the ground, the filing says Scholle closed and locked the sliding door, removed the magazine and round from the handgun and waited for the Routt County Sheriff’s Office to arrive.

The arrest affidavit also notes that after the shooting, Scholle closed and locked the sliding glass door, “which was an available option to Mr. Scholle prior to shooting (the driver).”

Both the arrest affidavit and the motion to dismiss filed last week say the driver of the vehicle had been drinking on Jan. 29, though the amount and type of drink is not consistent between the two documents. Each also makes mention of the temperature on the January night, which was below zero Fahrenheit.

A hearing to consider motions in the case is set for Nov. 15, a pretrial readiness conference is scheduled for Dec. 8 and dates for a potential jury trial in the case have been set for late January.

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