UPDATED: Charges Dropped Against One Defendant in Pfister Case
Several charges have been dropped in the case against defendant Nancy Styler. Styler is one of three charged with murder and conspiracy to commit murder against Aspen native Nancy Pfister. Pitkin County Judge Gail Nichols ordered Styler's charges be dropped on Tuesday, June 17th, after the 9th Judicial District Attorney's office filed a motion the same day, saying the DA's office believes "there is insufficient evidence to prove the defedent's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and the [DA's office] do not believe there is a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits at trial."
The District Attorney's office put out a press release after the ruling, stating the office filed to dismiss the charges because attorneys "did receive additional evidence in the cases against Nancy and William Styler and Katherine Carpenter late last week and early this week which led to the filing of this motion." The charges dropped are First Degree Murder, Conspiracy to Commit First Degree Murder, and Accessory After the Fact to First Degree Murder. There was no discussion at Tuesday's hearing about what evidence prompted charges to be dropped.
Mrs. Styler is being transported from the Eagle County Jail, where she's been held without bond, to Pitkin County Jail. Once processed there she is to be released and is free to move about. An attorney for Ms. Styler, Beth Krulewitch, said during the hearing on Tuesday that Ms. Styler had a place to stay immediately after the hearing. Another attorney for Ms. Styler, Garth McCarty, said after the hearing that Ms. Styler is happy to be exonerated and this is a very emotional time. McCarty also said Ms. Styler extends her sympathy to the Pfister family and hopes the charges being dropped helps bring some closure.
Three members of the Pfister family were included in the hearing: Pfister's two sisters, Christina and Suzanne, joined the hearing by conference call, and Pfister's daughter Juliana appeared in court. Judge Nichols said while the three, considered victims in the case, did not have the legal authority to challenge the charges being dropped, she wanted to make sure they were aware of the charges being dropped and why. Pfister's sisters did not have questions, one saying she understood it was "in the best interest of the child." It was not clear what child she was referring to; Pfister and all three of the defendants have children. Juliana Pfister asked whether Ms. Styler will be free to move about once released, and how that fit into Styler previously being part of the investigation and kept in jail. Judge Nichols said she didn't know the facts of the case and suggested the younger Pfister speak with the District Attorney's office to get more details.
After the hearing, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan held a long meeting with victims, and said her office often files motion to dismiss. Bryan was not expecting an open court hearing today with Judge Nichols' ruling. Another hearing is scheduled Friday morning for defendant William "Trey" Styler, and Bryan said she could not say what the hearing was about, only that it would be "very different in nature" from Ms. Styler's hearing Tuesday.
The preliminary hearing for charges against all three defendants is still on the calendar to begin next Wednesday, June 25th. At that time the District Attorney's office is expected to explain its case, now just against Mr. Styler and Kathy Carpenter. Both continue to be held without bond, at the Pitkin and Garfield County jails respectively.