James Lee assault case headed to trial

Craig man attacked husband and wife in their home Aug. 30

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— In a Dec. 14 court appearance, James Lee, of Craig, pleaded not guilty to a series of felony charges related to a reported assault on an elderly couple.

The case was set for a jury trial beginning May 3.

Lee was arrested Aug. 30 at the home of Howard and Sharon Salman in the 400 block of West Sixth Street.

Sharon Salman called 911 and reported that a stranger was at her door.

When police officers arrived, she reported that Lee punched out a screen window and assaulted her husband and also tried to pull him out onto the porch.

Sharon reported that she grabbed a walking stick to try to fend Lee off but that Lee grabbed the stick and used it to continue beating her husband.

Lee is charged with first-degree assault, a Class 2 felony; two counts of second-degree assault, first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary, all Class 3 felonies; and third-degree assault, a Class 6 felony.

Lee’s attorney, Emily Wick­ham, entered a plea of not guilty on all charges on his behalf, sending the case to trial. Court officials anticipate the trial to last four days.

Lee also is facing charges related to two other reported assaults.

Since his arrest for reportedly assaulting the Salmans, Lee was charged with second-degree assault, a Class 4 felony, on suspicion of beating another inmate at Moffat County Jail.

At Lee’s Dec. 14 court appearance, Judge Sandra Gardner reduced his charge to third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, as a sanction against the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office because of missing evidence.

In Lee’s third case, he faces another misdemeanor charge of third-degree assault for a bar fight that reportedly happened a few weeks before he is suspected of assaulting the Salmans.

Lee will appear in court at 11 a.m. March 2 for the other two assault cases.

Other court news

Moffat County Commis­sioner Tom Mathers will appear in court at 11 a.m. Jan. 19 for arraignment on two charges stemming from a reported incident in July.

On July 20, Mike Breen, of Craig, a former cook at Mathers Lounge & Cafe, filed a report with the Craig Police Department alleging that Math­ers struck him with his vehicle outside Mathers’ establishment days earlier, July 12, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

An arrest warrant was issued Dec. 7, and Mathers turned himself in to the Moffat County Jail that afternoon.

Mathers, 60, is charged with third-degree assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor, and careless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor traffic offense.

The 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office turned the case over to a special prosecutor from the Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Summit County because of a potential conflict of interest.

Mathers was elected to the Moffat County Commission in November 2006. He is up for re-election in November 2010.

Craig resident Tausha Merwin also will appear in court at 9:30 a.m. Jan 19 for an arraignment.

Merwin is charged with attempting to influence a public servant, a Class 4 felony, for reportedly lying to police officials about an alleged sexual relationship between her and former Police Department Detective Ken Johnson.

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