Seven-Year Sentence for Lawson Hill Assault
by Karen James
Feb 10, 2011 | 1472 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – A local man was transferred to Colorado Department of Corrections custody in Denver last week to begin a seven-year prison sentence imposed by the San Miguel County District Court after pleading guilty to second degree assault, violation of a protection order, and resisting arrest in connection with an incident that took place in Lawson Hill last summer.

Michael Frederick McCullough did not plead guilty to a fourth, weapons-possession charge, and the case did not go to trial, Assistant District Attorney Keri Yoder confirmed.

McCullough, AKA Rocket, was arrested on August 7, 2010 after he allegedly tried to strangle his girlfriend by pinning her neck against a deck railing with a broom handle.

The incident occurred one afternoon during which the victim, whose name was redacted from the arrest affidavit obtained at the time by The Watch, noticed McCullough, who was then 27, acting erratically when she awoke from a nap after the two had been working outside together.

A bizarre sequence of events followed during which McCullough allegedly took the victim’s vehicle without her permission only to return it 15 minutes later, throwing the keys at her when she advanced toward it.

She returned home and later heard a crash downstairs while watching television with her roommate. She went downstairs to the laundry room to find blood and McCullough with a cut on his wrist.

McCullough ran out of the residence in his boxers, and the victim called 911 and locked herself in the house. Meanwhile, her roommate left in McCullough’s vehicle to search for him.

McCullough returned to the residence in the roommate’s absence, and the victim let him in because he was bleeding, according to the arrest affidavit.

He then allegedly pushed her onto the deck, and repeatedly told her to defend herself as he bent her over the deck railing and put a broom handle against her neck in an apparent attempt to strangle her.

At that point she was still connected with 911 and dropped the phone, grabbing the broom handle and kicking at McCullough.

A neighbor was alerted by her kicks at his door and came out and rescued her.

A prior offender, McCullough had been on probation since 2006 after pleading guilty to first-degree assault against his mother in the “heat of passion,” former Seventh Judicial District Attorney Myrl Serra confirmed shortly after the 2010 incident.

At that time McCullough was placed on supervised probation, with certain conditions including a prohibition on his consumption of alcohol and controlled substances, and on his possessing or controlling firearms or other weapons.

That supervised probation was downgraded to unsupervised probation in February of 2009, after McCullough’s request that his probation be terminated was denied, according to Serra. Serra said at the time that his office typically denies termination requests, instead allowing unsupervised probation for those who have behaved appropriately.

However, McCullough’s former probation officer suggested that supervision in McCullough’s case had been terminated earlier than that.

In mid-June, 2010 Montrose County filed a motion to revoke McCullough’s probation after he was alleged to have been drinking alcohol in violation of the terms of his probation, according to Serra.

McCullough did not appear for his July 26 court date, for which he received a summons one month earlier, according to the arrest affidavit, and had an outstanding felony arrest warrant against him for failure to appear when he was taken into custody in San Miguel County.

Witnesses advised police that McCullough had been drinking whisky “all day” when he was arrested last August. Medical personnel advised that he had pipe burn marks on the roof of his mouth that appeared to have come from smoking methamphetamines or crack cocaine.

McCullough will be evaluated by the DOC prior to being placed in a suitable, permanent facility.

Second degree assault, a Class 4 felony and crime of violence, carries with it a penalty of five to 16 years imprisonment and three years of parole, Assistant DA Yoder said.

A former deputy district attorney for Colorado’s 7th Judicial District, Yoder was sworn in last week as Assistant District Attorney reporting to newly appointed District Attorney Dan Hotsenpiller. Hotsenpiller replaced the disgraced Serra following the latter’s resignation from his former position amidst charges of sex crimes and official misconduct.

“I’m really excited about our new boss,” Yoder said. “He’s a really good, experienced attorney and a man with a lot of integrity.”

Yoder said she would remain in Telluride and keep the same case assignments, assisting Hotsenpiller and the other attorneys in the office as needed.

“I’m really excited about the new direction we’re going in.”
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