Connor MacLaird pleads guilty
June 1, 2016
This spring has been a particularly eventful time for the court system in Grand County as several high profile criminal cases have been brought to a close.
The Connor MacLaird criminal defense is now moving towards resolution following MacLaird's entrance of a guilty plea earlier this week. MacLaird, the suspect in the Snooty Coyote Liquor Store Burglary and the assailant in a related assault on Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin, pleaded guilty to Attempted Assault in the First Degree on Tuesday. All other charges MacLaird was facing have been dismissed.
The guilty plea comes as part of a plea agreement worked out between MacLaird's Public Defender and representatives of the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office earlier this year. MacLaird entered his guilty plea and signed his agreement on Tuesday May 31.
District Court Judge Mary Hoak has tentatively accepted the agreement, pending the release of a Presentence Investigation Report (PSI). MacLaird's next court date, a sentencing hearing, is set for Aug. 15. Judge Hoak could still formally reject the plea agreement any time between now and the sentencing hearing. Assuming the plea agreement is accepted by the Court on Aug. 15 MacLaird will found out how long he will spend in prison, anywhere from five to 12-years.
Details in court documents related to the plea agreement outline the specific charge to which MacLaird pleaded guilty. The young man entered a guilty plea on Amended Count 1, Attempted Assault in the First Degree. The court documents state MacLaird, "engaged in conduct constituting a substantial step toward the commission of Assault in the First Degree. With intent, to cause serious bodily injury upon the person of a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider." The documents go on to state MacLaird, "threatened with a deadly weapon a peace officer… engaged in the performance of his [her] duties, and the defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, that the victim was a peace officer acting in the performance of his duties."
The amended Count 1 is subject to sentencing as an "extraordinary risk" crime, a type of sentence enhancer. As such MacLaird is subject to a minimum five-year sentence in the Colorado Dept. of Corrections (CDOC). Part of the plea agreement includes stipulations of a cap of 12-years in prison for MacLaird.
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The other charges MacLaird was facing in the case, relating to charges stemming from the burglary of the Snooty Coyote Liquor Store in Tabernash, were dismissed and MacLaird did not plead guilty to any of those charges.
The entire court case stems from incidents that occurred during the early morning hours of September 15, 2015. On that date, at 1:26 a.m. local law enforcement was called to Tabernash on reports of a burglary in progress at the Snooty Coyote Liquor Store. Officers found the store had been broken into in an apparent, "smash and grab' type burglary" according to affidavits related to the case. The store's front door glass had been broken.
The individual that initially called the authorities about the break-in informed deputies on scene the suspect fled the Snooty Coyote riding a bicycle. Officers located a bicycle with blood on it a short distance away from the Snooty Coyote on Grand County Road 523, which runs east/west directly behind the Fireside Inn in Tabernash, where MacLaird was staying at the time in Unit 2. Additional cursory searches of the nearby area revealed blood in both the front and rear of Unit 2 of the Fireside Inn as well as a duffle bag with blood on it that contained liquor bottles.
When officers entered Unit 2 of the Fireside Inn they were led by Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin. According to affidavits from the case, "Sheriff Schroetlin heard a man say, 'What the (explicative)?' from the rear of the residence. Sheriff Schroetlin then observed a white male holding an elongated object in his hand. Sheriff Schroetlin then identified the elongated object as being a large knife. MacLaird kept advancing towards Sheriff Schroetlin with the knife raised in a threatening manner. Sheriff Schroetlin ordered the male party to drop the knife two times. The male did not comply and continued advancing towards Sheriff Schroetlin with the knife raised in his hand. Sheriff Schroetlin made the decision to fire his duty firearm at the male party striking the male party multiple times."
The affidavit goes on to state that when MacLaird was asked what happened by responding paramedics, he said, "(Expletive) suicide by cop bro."
At that time MacLaird was airlifted to St. Anthony's Hospital in Lakewood. Deputies from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office formally arrested him on October 4 after he was released from St. Anthony's. MacLaird has remained in custody since that time and has been held in the Routt County Jail during his court proceedings.