Rifle’s Christmas Eve attempted murder case pleaded down to assault
A 9th Judicial District judge sentenced a 21-year-old Rifle man to 60 days jail plus supervised probation and recovery court treatment Thursday after a plea deal reduced attempted second-degree murder charges to second-degree assault.
As part of the plea agreement, Judge John Neiley deferred a four-year sentence for the assault charge against Jacob Vandiver, who pleaded guilty to the reduced charges Feb. 28. Those charges included second-degree assault (strangulation), a class four felony, and violation of a restraining order, a misdemeanor.
Vandiver was arrested Dec. 24, 2018, on attempted second-degree murder charges after a fight with his female partner in their Rifle home.
During the incident, Vandiver allegedly punched and choked her, and repeatedly threatened to kill her, according to an arrest affidavit in the case.
The allegations in the affidavit are “terrifying,” Neiley said during the sentencing hearing Thursday, adding that some of the details described in the arrest report were “not something I can easily overlook,” Neiley said.
Deputy District Attorney Denton Walker said the plea agreement was a difficult proposition for the prosecution given the allegations and evidence in the case.
Walker said the deferred sentence with probation is a risk, but worth it given Vandiver’s age, addiction issues, and given the fact that the victim did not want to see Vandiver in prison.
Vandiver’s mother also spoke at the sentencing hearing, noting her son’s struggles with substance abuse and indicating that he had support from family.
Public Defender Alex Haynes said the arrest and time in jail has already been a wakeup call for his client, who quit methamphetamine as a teenager and indicated he is ready to do the same with alcohol. Vandiver gave a statement at the sentencing to that effect.
His kids are his life, Vandiver also said, adding that he is a good dad and a good father but not while drinking.
Neiley acknowledged that alcohol was a theme in Vandiver’s previous offenses, which was part of the reason he didn’t immediately allow for Vandiver’s release under the deferred sentence.
The 60-day sentence in the Garfield County Jail, which could be less after accounting for good behavior, would give Vandiver a better base of sobriety. Vandiver has been in custody on $3,500 bond for 95 days.
Forest Service investigates Independence Pass snowmobiling case after alleged culprit posted pictures on social media
The U.S. Forest Service opened an investigation Wednesday into a case of two men snowmobiling on snow-free terrain in designated wilderness on Independence Pass after receiving tips that one of the alleged culprits posted pictures of his illegal activity on social media.