Agreement quickly reached in Steamboat Springs stabbing case
March 19, 2014
Steamboat Springs — The case against a woman accused of stabbing her boyfriend last week in Steamboat Springs has been resolved quickly.
"This case took a different route than I thought it would have," Judge James Garrecht said at the end of a plea hearing Wednesday. "I'll leave it at that."
Laura Vanessa Latorre-Sanchez originally was arrested March 12 on suspicion of felony second-degree assault related to domestic violence. She was formally charged by the Routt County District Attorney's Office with reckless endangerment, a Class 3 misdemeanor. Sanchez spent four days in jail before being released from custody.
In court, she pleaded guilty to third-degree trespassing on agricultural land, which had nothing to do with the allegations. Such a plea is known as "legal fiction," and Routt County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Karzen said after the hearing that the Class 3 misdemeanor plea resulted in the desired outcome.
The charge Sanchez pleaded guilty to also could help her keep her immigration status in the United States. Karzen said Sanchez is in the country legally with a green card.
Sanchez's boyfriend, Jon Champion, was stabbed in the chest the night of March 11 at a residence on Après Ski Way. He was treated for the injury and released the same night.
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Police said Champion was intoxicated, and he told police that he fell on a blunt object.
Police later learned there was tension in the relationship, and that night Champion had been arguing with Sanchez, according to an arrest affidavit. She told police she could "feel" Champion getting closer to her, so she grabbed a knife from the counter to "scare him," but she stabbed him.
After Wednesday's hearing, Karzen said that after reviewing the reports and speaking with Champion, he felt Sanchez might be "on the receiving end of a domestic violence situation."
"She may have been acting in self defense in a broad sense," Karzen said.
Karzen also consulted with Diane Moore, executive director of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, a local nonprofit that provides services related to domestic violence. Moore attended the hearing.
Instead of dropping the charge against Sanchez, Karzen said he felt it was important for a system to be in place so Sanchez could get help. During Sanchez's one year of unsupervised probation, she will be required to receive substance abuse and mental health evaluations.
Sanchez was given a deferred judgment, meaning if Sanchez successfully completes her probation, the charge will be dismissed.
Garrecht also ordered Sanchez not to have any contact with Champion.
"Whatever your relationship was wasn't good, in terms of how you got in this predicament, so it would be better for you to move on," Garrecht said.
Sanchez recently had moved to Steamboat, and she plans to move back to Florida.