A Carbondale man who allegedly likened himself to California cop killer Christopher Dorner was sentenced Tuesday to two years in jail — the maximum possible sentence — for two misdemeanor restraining-order violations.
Matthew Franzen, 51, repeatedly told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely of Pitkin County Court that he was wrongfully convicted in his jury trial on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. He said the victims in the case were lying.
But it was Franzen who was dishonest and threatening to the judicial system, Fernandez-Ely said.
“I absolutely believe you are not telling the truth,” she said. “The victims are not the only ones who find you scary. Scary, scary, scary.”
Franzen was arrested in August after a couple, who each have restraining orders against him, said he wouldn’t stop harassing them. He has been in the Pitkin County Jail since his arrest and appeared in court in orange jail clothes and handcuffs.
One of the victims told Fernandez-Ely that she awoke one morning and saw Franzen in a tree near her bedroom window staring at her. The incident was one of many that she said was a pattern of harassment over several years.
Franzen said he was trimming a tree for a neighbor who had hired him and didn’t know that the victims lived there.
The woman said Franzen has made their lives “a living hell” for seven years. In 2006, she said she took a job baby-sitting for a woman who had a child with Franzen. She had an encounter with him concerning child custody shortly after she took the job.
“I didn’t realize safety was going to be such a huge part of it,” she said, growing emotional. “Since that day, every time he’s seen us he gets in [her boyfriend’s] face.”
“Fake tears,” Franzen said, prompting Fernandez-Ely to tell him that if he spoke out again she would have him removed from the courtroom. “It’s just fake, your honor.”
Her boyfriend told Fernandez-Ely that Franzen came to his place of work at the same time every day and “would start talking to me about not being able to see his kids and how billionaires were out to get him.”
“He told the same story over and over,” the man said. “I had to tell him, ‘My girlfriend doesn’t want to talk to you. Just leave us alone.’ He grew more aggressive and started yelling about his family troubles.
“A few days later he was hanging out in our tree.”
That’s when the couple filed restraining orders against Franzen in Garfield County Court. The restraining orders were issued in 2010.
Franzen was arrested on Aug. 31 after the woman told Aspen police that he rode by on a bicycle and angrily pointed at her. He was convicted of violating the restraining order for that incident and for harassing her partner by repeatedly going to his place of work after he was ordered by the court not to. Both incidents took place within the city of Aspen.
Franzen shook his head as the victims spoke in court, quietly telling his court-appointed attorney, Patrick Gentzler of Grand Junction, that their statements weren’t true.
Franzen has demonstrated a pattern of stalking the victims and disregarding court orders, Deputy District Attorney Jason Slothouber told Fernandez-Ely.
Franzen also sent his ex-wife and her husband terrifying faxes that wished them a “horrible, painful death” and mentioned the “crooked, f***ed legal system,” Slothouber said.
On Feb. 8, Franzen approached a jail deputy and asked him to read a newspaper article on Christopher Dorner, the deceased ex-Los Angeles police officer who went on a killing spree earlier this month.
“Franzen made statements likening himself to Dorner and stated, ‘This is what happens when someone snaps!’” a jail report says.
He also “spoke of a conspiracy against himself,” the report says.
Slothouber said he feared for the victims, for himself and for Fernandez-Ely should Franzen be released immediately.
Franzen spoke at length from statements from people supportive of him, telling the judge that he’s a Buddhist and not a violent person.
“I’m sorry if they were upset, but it’s nothing I did to them,” he said of the victims.
Fernandez-Ely, noting that Franzen was wearing a yarmulke, urged him to consult with a rabbi. Before handing down the maximum sentence, she said his apologies were insincere and that he had exhibited a clear pattern of hostility.
Franzen said he would appeal his conviction.