Ryan Cole Stone Eluding Case Analysis

There have been many news reports about the Ryan Cole Stone case which included a police chase yesterday through the metro-Denver are. Here s a breakdown of the facts as reported in the media as well as the potential criminal charges.

Alleged Facts:

At about 6:20 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12, Stone steals an SUV, apparently from a gas station, with a 4-year-old child inside while the mom was in the gas station. At 7:30 a.m., Stone jumps out of the SUV on I-76, physically forces a driver and passenger out of a gold minivan, resulting in minor injuries to both of them, and leaves in the stolen vehicle. There is no indication that a weapon was used or threatened.  (The 4-year-old child was found safe and unharmed inside the SUV). at this point, the police give chase.

Stone ditched the gold minivan and forced a woman out of a silver sedan. At least half a dozen vehicles were struck or bumped in the course of the chase. A state trooper, who was engaged in deploying “stop sticks” on E-470 was apparently struck by the vehicle Stone was driving and suffered serious bodily injury. A police spokesperson stated yesterday to news media that it was unclear whether the trooper was hit intentionally, or whether defendant was attempting to avoid the stop sticks. Stone crashes the silver sedan and fled on foot, but was eventually caught by police.

Stone allegedly has 11-page criminal record dating back more than 10 years that includes assault, receiving stolen property, weapons possession, flight, child abuse and drug offenses. It is unclear how many of these incidents, if any, resulted in felony convictions.  He also had two arrest warrant pending, though it’s not clear whether he was on bond.

Potential Felony Charges

The most serious potential charge would be attempted first degree murder with respect to the state trooper. That would be a class two felony, and subject to the crime of violence sentence enhancement provisions. The sentencing range for that offense alone would be 16-48 years.

He could be convicted of first degree assault, with respect to the police officer, pursuant to 18-3-202, if

(a) With intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, he causes serious bodily injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon; or

(c) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious bodily injury to any person; or

(e) With intent to cause serious bodily injury upon the person of a peace officer or firefighter, he or she threatens with a deadly weapon a peace officer or firefighter engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer or firefighter acting in the performance of his or her duties.

First degree assault is a class three felony and a per se crime of violence, which would carry a sentence of 8 to 24 years.

Second degree kidnapping (of the child) is ordinarily a class 4 felony, absent special circumstances.  Since the child wasn’t injured, ransomed, or assaulted and because it doesn’t appear that a weapon was ever displayed or threatened, the only circumstance that might apply is if the child was also the “victim of a robbery.”

Colorado has no specific “carjacking statute,” but Stone is probably looking at four counts of first degree aggravated motor vehicle theft. Depending on the value of the vehicles involved, (under $20k or $20k+) each of these would be either a class 4 (2 to 6 years) or class 3 felony (4 to 12). If the trial court found extraordinary aggravating circumstances, such as the presence of the child, the defendant’s criminal history.

Stone is looking at three counts of robbery (for the third and fourth incidents). There would be three robbery charges rather than two, since one of the incidents involved two victims. These are generally class 4 felonies, but robbery can be elevated to an “extraordinary risk” class three felony if during the act of robbery “or the immediate flight therefrom” the defendant  “ knowingly wounds or strikes the person robbed or any other person with a deadly weapon [such as a vehicle] or by the use of force, threats, or intimidation with a deadly weapon knowingly puts the person robbed or any other person in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.”

Vehicular eluding, under 18-9-116.5, is a class 4 felony if it results in a bodily injury to any other person (such as the trooper).

Child abuse, under 18-6-401, is a class 2 misdemeanor where the child suffers no actual harm. The presence of the child, however, could easily be construed as an aggravating factor for various other offenses.

Even assuming no weapon was used, Stone could be looking at several  counts of menacing pursuant to 18-3-206, relating to the people he pulled from the vehicles. If no deadly weapon is involved, menacing is a class 3 misdemeanor.

There are probably at least three third degree assault charges that could be filed, relating to the three individuals who were pulled from their vehicles.

Under the habitual offender provisions, depending on whether Stone has two or three or more prior felony convictions, he could be subject to triple or quadruple the presumptive maximum sentence for each and every predicate offense.

Convictions for most of the above offenses could be stacked in terms of sentencing, and all of them would be subject to findings of extraordinary aggravating circumstances, based up things such as the defendant’s criminal record.

There is no allegation circulating that there is a driving under the influence (DUI) or that Stone was under the influence of any drug when the crime spree took place.

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