Assault suspects appear in court
Craig — Three local men and a male juvenile appeared Monday in Moffat County Court to hear a judge’s advisement on charges related to an alleged assault July 15 that sent one person to the hospital with critical injuries.
Brice Boling, 20, Johnny Tom, 20, and a 17-year-old minor, all of Craig, were each arrested Friday on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree assault, a Class 4 felony.
Garrett Verplanck, 19, of Craig, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of committing first-degree assault, a Class 3 felony.
Verplanck turned himself over to law enforcement at the Moffat County Public Safety Center, as did Boling, who reported a few days earlier.
At the juvenile’s advisement Monday, Jon Pfeifer, assistant district attorney for the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, said the case was “one of the worst violent crimes I’ve ever read.”
A Craig Police Department arrest affidavit states that Boling and the minor got into a fistfight with two other men during the late night hours of July 14, outside of a home in the 590 block of Stout Street.
A short time after the fight ended, Boling and the minor returned early July 15 with Tom and Verplanck.
According to a woman who said she witnessed the incident and is cited in the affidavit, the men brought wood boards – a 2-by-4 and a 2-by-2 – and a lead pipe to the second fight.
After a second altercation, the affidavit states an ambulance took Chance Douglas Abney, 22, of Craig, to The Memorial Hospital to treat injuries consistent with multiple blows to the back and face by a 2-by-4.
Later July 15, the same day as the fight, Abney was transported to Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs for surgery.
Craig Police and Steamboat Springs Police Department officials described Abney has having 6- to 8-inch-long bruises on his back, two cuts across his face, a possible broken cheek bone and a broken nose, according to the affidavit.
Officials also stated they first thought Abney has one or more front teeth missing but discovered instead that the upper palette of his mouth was split in two during the fight.
Statements about the incident from the four males arrested in the case differ throughout the affidavit.
The minor and Verplanck told law enforcement that the minor returned to the home on Stout Street after the initial fistfight to retrieve his bicycle, but was “jumped” by about 10 men who attacked him with wood boards, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit states Verplanck told police he joined the minor and Boling for a third attempt to retrieve the minor’s bike, but they were attacked by 12 men who had “blood covering all or some of their faces.”
The affidavit only describes the minor’s injuries, which were recorded by police as being skinned knees, a small abrasion on his right wrist and a cut on his left temple.
According to the affidavit, Verplanck also said that in the process of defending themselves, Boling struck two men in the face with a rock.
Boling told law enforcement that the minor instigated the first fistfight, and that he, the minor, Tom and Verplanck later returned to the scene to fight again, according to the affidavit.
Boling added in his statement included that the minor picked up a lead pipe, and Verplanck and Tom obtained wood boards before the second fight occurred.
After he was taken into custody, Tom told police that he and Verplanck were asked by the minor and Boling to join them in a fight, according to the affidavit.
In the affidavit, Tom said it was his idea to pick up boards and pipes from the ground around a storage unit near Sunset Elementary, and that he witnessed Verplanck strike Abney in the face with a 2-by-4.
The District Attorney’s Office has until Thursday to file formal charges against Boling, Tom and Verplanck, and until Wednesday to file charges against the minor.
At the minor’s court appearance Monday, Judge Sandra Gardner ordered him to be held in custody at a youth corrections facility in Grand Junction.
Gardner said that although the minor had no prior arrests or tickets, the nature of the case compelled her to place him in custody outside of his parents’ home. However, she added she would be willing to change her decision at a later date.
Boling, Tom and Verplanck appeared via video from Moffat County Jail, and each were given $10,000 bond requirements.
The three men are next scheduled to appear in court July 28.
Unlike the minor, each man has prior convictions.
Tom previously was convicted of two minor in possession charges and a misdemeanor theft charge.
Boling and Verplanck have each been convicted of a minor in possession charge.
None of the men who were at the Stout Street home have been arrested in connection with the case.
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