The battle to see evidence continues for attorneys defending the couple accused of murdering Aspen native Nancy Pfister. Pitkin County Judge Gail Nichols held an extended hearing yesterday morning, to address matters left unaddressed after court proceedings on Monday. Defense lawyers made their case for seeing more evidence, saying time is of the essence.
The courtroom wasn't as packed as in previous hearings, but everyone paid close attention, as Judge Gail Nichols hashed out concerns laid out by defense attorneys and the prosecution’s response to them.
William and Nancy Styler are charged with first degree murder and conspiring to murder Nancy Pfister. Though not present in court yesterday, a longtime Aspen local is also accused of murder in the case. William Styler, also known as Trey, reportedly has extensive experience in courtrooms, at one time representing himself in a lengthy legal case. He rarely moved and was quiet during the hearing yesterday but his familiarity with legal proceedings seemed evident in the number and detail of the motions filed by his attorneys.
Styler is being held at the Pitkin County Jail. Among the issues raised by his attorney is about surveillance by jail staff. Public defender Tina Fang questioned whether Styler being videotaped during meetings could compromise the case. Judge Nichols said there was nothing she could do about jail protocols. But regarding the larger issue of jail related confidential information ending up in the hands of the prosecution, Nichols clarified that medical records are not immediately available to prosecutors.
Nancy Styler is now being held in the Eagle County jail. One of her attorneys said that was making it difficult to meet with her client. Attorney Beth Krulewitch is court- appointed counsel for Styler and asked Judge Nichols to order that Styler be brought to Aspen once a week for meetings. Nichols responded that she can’t order the Pitkin County Sheriff's office to spend the resources driving Styler to and from Pitkin County, even though taxpayers are paying an attorney to drive three hours round trip for every client meeting in Eagle County.
At Monday’s hearing, Judge Nichols expanded the amount of evidence that defense attorneys can see… including a tour of the crime scene at Pfister's home. Yesterday, Krulewitch and other attorneys for the Stylers again asked for more evidence. This time they asked for specific items including a trash bag, described as having a boarding pass in it.
Krulewitch called the evidence against her client so far as, quote, “razor thin,” and said she believes law enforcement in the Valley are ignoring other possible homicide suspects. Judge Nichols said she understood all of the defense attorneys are trying to do their best job... without much access to evidence at this stage of the case. She called it, quote, “going about in the dark to protect your client’s interest.” Ultimately Nichols denied the request.
As to whether there could be other suspects out there, District Attorney Sherry Caloia, speaking to reporters on Monday, said very little.
Reporter: “Will there be any more arrests in this case? Could there be any more arrests in this case?”
Sherry Caloia: “I don’t want to go there right now.”
Reporter: “Would you say the case is still open, though?”
Caloia: “The case is still open, to every possibility. Out there, yes, it is.”
Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan spoke earlier about the evidence against the suspects.
“I’m not going to comment on the nature of the evidence in this case. However based on the evidence that we did have, our office believed that it met the definition of first degree murder under Colorado law, which does require an element of premeditation.”
The Stylers are set to appear in court again early next month when the judge is expected to set the date for a preliminary hearing and a bond hearing. Also accused in the murder is Aspen local Kathy Carpenter. She was arrested last Friday and appeared in court earlier this week. She is being held without bond at the Pitkin County jail, and will go before a judge again next Wednesday, March 26th.