DA moves to unseal Pfister murder case

by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
Prosecutors today are filing a motion to unseal details of the murder case against three people in the death of Aspen resident Nancy Pfister.

No details have been released so far into why authorities suspect Katherine Carpenter, 56, William Styler, 65, and his wife, Nancy Styler, 62, killed Pfister. They are all charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

But with the law enforcement investigation now mostly complete, District Attorney Sherry Caloia said on Wednesday that the arrest and search warrants no longer need to be sealed.

“I looked at the law and where we are in the case, and I saw no reason why we should treat this case differently than others,” she said. “We’re going to file [the motion to unseal], and then the defense obviously has a say in the whole thing.”

Glenwood Springs attorney Garth McCarty, one of the court-appointed lawyers representing Nancy Styler, said that he and other members of the defense teams will likely oppose the motion.

“Our main purpose is always going to be preserving a fair jury pool,” he said. “For that reason, our concern would be that publicizing large amounts of information, especially disturbing facts, could poison the jury pool, generally.

“Our concern is that the court protect as much of that information as possible to avoid the drawing of conclusions, one way or the other.”

If the defense does file an opposing motion, a hearing will be held before Judge Gail Nichols of Pitkin County District Court decides whether to lift her sealing order.

Pfister’s body was found in an upstairs closet at her home on West Buttermilk on Feb. 26, after Carpenter, who ran errands for Pfister and took care of her affairs when she was out of town, called 911. Authorities have not released any details into the motive behind her slaying, nor how, when and where she was killed.

Before Pfister’s death, the Stylers rented her home while she took an extended trip to Australia. She wrote on her Facebook page shortly before returning home on Feb. 22 that they were not paying rent or utilities, and that she was seeking new tenants.

On March 3, the day the Stylers were arrested at a Basalt motel after they moved out of Pfister’s home, prosecutors filed a motion, approved by Nichols, that sealed the entire case. That means the motion to unseal the case will itself be sealed.

Caloia said her office wanted the case closed to the public because at the time, the investigation was in its early stages.

“At that time we were deep into investigating the case, and we didn’t really know if other suspects were out there,” she said.

Carpenter was arrested March 14 at her Aspen apartment, and last week Caloia said there are no other suspects.

Asked Wednesday if her office’s motion would be strictly for the arrest and search warrants or for the entire case, Caloia said it will be a “blanket motion” to unseal all of it.

“We don’t need to keep things under seal anymore,” she said.

The defendants, who are being held without bond in separate jails in Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties, are due back in court on April 23.

Caloia said the unsealing motion could be discussed at that hearing if the defense has by then filed its response.

McCarty said the defense’s answer may be filed by that point.

chad@aspendailynews.com