by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Third Judicial District Court Judge Claude Appel set a five-day jury trial for next spring in the assault case against a Walsenburg woman accused of sending two city police officers to the hospital during a May 2012 incident on Stacy Drive.
Amanda Daniels, 23, was bound over on two felony counts during a preliminary hearing earlier this year stemming from the May 17 incident in which she claims she was as much a victim of assault as police officers were. Daniels will face one count of second degree assault, a class four felony and a charge of attempt to disarm a peace officer, a class six felony in a trial set to be April 8, 2013. Daniels also faces misdemeanor charges also filed in connection with the case. The five days set for the trial includes jury selection.
Daniels, and her attorney, Adam Schultz, appeared in court for a motions hearing last Thursday. Clay McKisson appeared for the district attorney’s office.
It had been expected that Schultz would seek a motion to dismiss all charges against his client due to allegations that Walsenburg Police may have destroyed evidence in the case. Prior to Judge Appel taking the bench Thursday, McKisson handed over a handful of discovery documents to the defense and the motion to dismiss was not presented. However, the defense filed motions concerning additional evidence discovery, including any and all reports generated by the Huerfano County Sheriff’s Office, who Schultz said opened an investigation of police brutality against the two city officers who arrested Daniels; Rich Isnetto and Cpl. John Salazar. “I know the sheriff’s office has done an investigation and I don’t have that discovery yet,” Schultz said.
With both city officers transported from the scene to Spanish Peaks Regional Health Center the night of the incident, blast doors and paper tags associated with the discharge of Taser weapons by city police, were taken into evidence by sheriff’s deputies. Schultz said Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman investigated the allegations of police brutality, but he had not seen any reports to that effect. “This is relevant, not fishing,” Shultz told the court. Schultz sought all written reports, including any reports and scientific findings made by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and any and all emergency communications center radio traffic recorded the night of the incident or thereafter. The motions were granted by the judge.
The defense also sought all notes officers may have made in connection with the case. “If they still exist, they should be preserved and discovered,” Schultz said. The motion was granted as was one seeking police use-of-force manuals and guidelines utilized by the Walsenburg Police Department.
Judge Appel set a Nov. 5 deadline for any remaining discovery issues: a Nov. 29 date for a final motions hearing and a March 21, 2013 date for a final status conference prior to the April jury trial.
Daniels was arrested the night of May 17, 2012 outside of a residence on Stacy Drive, where city police had been called regarding a noise complaint and possible underage drinking. Daniels is accused of fighting with city officers when they attempted to arrest her for interference. She claims she was hit in the face by Cpl. Salazar with a flashlight after she was handcuffed in a police vehicle.
Police reports indicate she was shot with a Taser at least three times and had been sprayed with OC spray before she was successfully taken into custody.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward