Investigators think Hayden resident shot man in self-defense |

Investigators think Hayden resident shot man in self-defense

Derek Stephenson
courtesy/ Routt County Sheriff’s Office

— Court documents show that investigators think a 50-year-old Hayden man was defending himself when he shot a 31-year-old man in the leg Friday night.

Police were dispatched shortly after 10 p.m. to a report of a disturbance involving the two males in the alley behind a restaurant at 107 W. Jefferson Ave.

Derek J. Stephenson was found shot in the upper leg and was treated for injuries at Yampa Valley Medical Center before being booked into Routt County Jail on suspicion of third-degree assault.

William Mercer also was treated for injuries he received during the fight.

“It appears Derek was the primary aggressor in this situation,” Routt County District Attorney’s Office Chief Investigator Doug Winters stated in an affidavit filed with Routt County Court.

Stephenson was released from Routt County Jail after posting a $1,500 bond. He is due back in court at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 14. A message left with Stephenson on Tuesday was not immediately returned. Mercer’s phone number was not listed.

Mercer told the investigators that on Friday night, he heard noises coming from outside where his pickup was parked. He looked outside and saw someone hitting the truck. His cellphone was dead, and he went outside with a gun. Police do not think the two men knew each other before the incident.

According to the affidavit, Mercer said he told Stephenson to get away from his truck, and Stephenson threatened to hurt Mercer. Stephenson charged Mercer, and Mercer was punched and knocked down.

Mercer told investigators that he was scared and fired a warning shot. Mercer said Stephenson kept charging toward him, and Mercer thought he had the opportunity to kill Stephenson.

“He didn’t want to kill Derek so he shot Derek in the leg,” the affidavit stated.

The gun used was a .17-caliber revolver.

After being shot, Stephenson backed up, giving Mercer a chance to get up, but Stephenson came at Mercer again, the affidavit stated. Mercer then went to his pickup, and the owner of a nearby business called for help.

Investigators think that before the shooting, Stephenson was drinking with friends at a nearby residence, and Stephenson got upset while outside the residence with a friend.

Stephenson spoke with investigators after the incident. He denied hitting Mercer’s truck and gave inconsistent statements about the incident, the affidavit stated.

“Derek then became very agitated and wanted an attorney,” the affidavit stated.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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