Stefen Chihocky pleaded guilty Tuesday in 22nd Judicial District Court to assaulting a Montezuma County Sheriff’s deputy in November, then withdrew his plea after Judge Todd Plewe declined to lower his bond.
For pleading guilty to assaulting an officer, the District Attorney’s Office offered Chihocky, 27, a deal to dismiss two other cases: a Class 4 felony charge for allegedly providing false identifying information to an officer in October and two Class 5 felony charges for allegedly trespassing a vehicle with the intent to commit crime and possession of burglary tools, also in October.
But in withdrawing his guilty plea, Chihocky’s three cases are now set for trial in March.
The hearing Tuesday started normally, with Chihocky standing in custody next to defense attorney Kenneth Pace. Plewe read Chihocky a list of rights he would give up by pleading guilty, including the right to a jury trial. Then, Pace told Plewe that the plea deal included an agreement to reduce two $5,000 cash or surety bonds to personal recognizance bonds, which would allow Chihocky to leave jail without paying bond.
Plewe paused, then asked Pace where in the plea deal that was written.
“Mr. Pace, it seems like you are trying to sneak that one in there on me because I don’t think I would have agreed to it,” Plewe said.
District Attorney Will Furse assured Plewe that the bond agreement had been reached during a waiver hearing and should have been included in the case paperwork.
Plewe asked how that would be appropriate given that Chihocky “seems to be racking up cases.” Plewe noted that in one case Chihocky allegedly fought with law enforcement and in another allegedly provided a false name to law enforcement.
“To me, it’s a community safety issue,” Plewe said. “If he’s just admitted in open court that he fought with law enforcement when they tried to arrest him ... I’m not willing to just cut him loose.”
The false-information charge stems from an Oct. 28 traffic stop. A Cortez police officer stopped a vehicle on the 1200 block of Jackson Street for a defective brake light.
According to an deputy’s incident report, a man in the back seat identified himself as Jesse Wall, but when the officer returned to the Police Department and looked up a photo of Jesse Wall, he found it did not look like the man in the car.
Later, the officer traveled to the car driver’s residence and asked who was in the back seat. The man told the officer his name was Stefen. At the officer’s request, the man pulled up Stefen’s Facebook page and found his name was Stefen Chihocky, not Jesse Wall. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
On Nov. 6, two Montezuma County Sheriff’s deputies attempted to serve Chihocky the warrant at a residence on the 31000 block of Colorado Highway 184. An incident report states the deputies knew Chihocky has a history of running from the police, so the deputies approached the front and back doors.
A deputy attempted to take Chihocky into custody at the front door, but Chihocky allegedly punched him in the ribs, broke free of his grip and ran into the canyon behind the home.
A Cortez Police Department K9 and Colorado State Patrol officer helped find Chihocky, and he was taken into custody. During a search, a 0.3 gram bag of cocaine was found in his wallet, the incident report said.
Back in court, Plewe said Chihocky could withdraw his guilty plea but would not lower his bond. As Pace and Chihocky discussed their options, a man in the gallery used hand signals to tell Chihocky how much he could afford to pay for Chihocky’s bond. After a deputy tried to disrupt the communication by standing between the two, Pace and the man retreated to a back office. When they returned to the gallery, the man said loudly, “Tell him I’ll send him all the money I can.” Plewe, while hearing another case, told the man that he couldn’t be that loud in the courtroom.
A short time later, Chihocky and Pace again appeared before Plewe, and Pace asked that the two $5,000 bonds be reduced to $2,000. Plewe refused to negotiate, and Pace withdrew Chihocky’s guilty plea in the three cases.
The three cases were set for trial the week of March 11.