Craig man accused of stabbing sentenced to prison


A Moffat County District Court judge sentenced a Craig man Thursday to five years in prison for a November 2007 stabbing prosecutors described as a "vicious attack."

Bret Smith pleaded guilty to second-degree assault for his role in the knife stabbing of Michael Armstrong on Nov. 21, 2007, at the Baker Hotel in Craig. He also pleaded guilty to two charges of third-degree assault.

All charges are felonies.

Judge Sandra Gardner ordered Smith to serve five years in the Department of Corrections for the second-degree assault conviction, and a year each for the two third-degree assault convictions.

The sentences will be served concurrently.

Brett Barkey, the now former Moffat County Chief Deputy District Attorney who handled the Smith prosecution, said he agreed with the punishment handed down.

"Five years in prison is the appropriate penalty for this vicious attack," Barkey said after the sentencing hearing.

Smith originally was charged with first-degree assault and bias motivated crime for the attack against Armstrong, who is black.

A booking sheet from the Moffat County Jail reveals that Smith has a tattoo on his right shoulder described by authorities as an "iron eagle" gripping a swastika. The word "heartless" is tattooed on his right arm.

Ken Johnson, a Craig Police Department detective, investigated the Baker Hotel incident. He said Smith allegedly made racial slurs against Armstrong during the attack.

The eagle and swastika tattoo helped authorities identify and locate Smith, Johnson said.

A witness at the scene reported the tattoo to police. Another officer knew of Smith's tattoo, and once he was identified, police were able to find him at the Craig Motel, where he was staying, Johnson said.

Smith told police he went to the Baker Hotel to complete a methamphetamine deal with a hotel resident, Johnson said. An altercation with Armstrong, who was at the hotel but not involved in the deal, Smith claimed, ensued.

Police were unable to find evidence of drugs or money, the detective added.

Johnson said Smith doesn't appear to be affiliated with a gang, and police were unable to find any previous convictions for racial crimes in his past.

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 875-1791, or


Wayne Eller 9 years, 1 month ago

Why was the bias motivated hate crime charge changed or dropped? Why was the white kid that assaulted Randal Nelson in Steamboat Springs not charged with a bias motivated hate crime. His remarks to Randal were definately derogatory and race related. He was WHITE and Randal was BLACK. The major difference was that Randal was able to defend himself and put a stop to the confrontation. Randal had to spend in excess of $40,000.00 to prove his innocence. The people of Steamboat Springs stood up and financially assisted Randal with his lawyer charges. Congradulations to the people that helped Randal and SHAME ON THE D A for causing this to happen!!!!!!!!!!! This is a clear case of descrimination by the D A. If the players colors were reversed would the D A pursue it differently? This is just another case of the DA over-prosecuting some cases and not or under-prosecuting others. Lack of fairness sure has an odor!!!!!!!!!!


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