A 25-year-old Georgia resident pleaded guilty Monday to one count of second-degree assault, a class 4 felony on a deferred judgment, and one count of third-degree assault, a class 1 misdemeanor.
Matthew Ackerman was sentenced to 60 days in the Pitkin County Jail and two years of supervised probation, to be served in Georgia. If Ackerman violates any terms of his probation, including those of a mandatory protection order, he’ll be facing the full presumptive range of penalties for the felony assault: two to eight years in prison, District Judge Chris Seldin emphasized several times during his sentencing.
“Obviously, the stakes for you are very high. If you pick up new charges, you could be charged with violating your probation. Serious stuff. You have a lot on the line,” he said, adding that a warrant for his arrest from Colorado would result in his being transported back to the state.
For his part, Ackerman assured the court that he has no intention or desire to ever return to the Aspen area.
Ackerman has a history of domestic violence, according to an Aspen police affidavit from March of this year. In addition to allegedly striking and subsequently stalking an Aspen ex-girlfriend, Ackerman was arrested in Garfield County twice in 2016. A statement of factual basis was waived in court, but the affidavit details a months-long saga of expletive-filled voicemails containing threats, including to make public intimate photographs.
“Both involved ex-girlfriends,” the affidavit reads. “I called one of Ackerman’s ex-girlfriends … and she told me Ackerman was verbally and physically abusive toward her during their relationship. [She] said she moved out of state to get away from Ackerman and said she was afraid of him. She told me she does not like to come to this area to visit family because she is afraid she will run into Ackerman.”
Ultimately, it was that pattern — and a fear of a continuation of that pattern — that led to the victim in Monday’s case to come forward to authorities.
“I did everything I could to try to help him, and I feel horrible about all of this. I don’t want to be here, but I also had no other option,” the victim said during sentencing. “I want him to stop disrespecting women; not just me, but a ton of women. That’s why I’m here, too, for other women.”
Still, neither the victim nor Ackerman bore any ill will toward the other. In fact, Ackerman will not pay any restitution because the victim specifically requested he not face that burden in addition to the rest of his sentence.
“I want him to flourish,” the victim said. “I hope it’s different this time. I’ve seen him say the right things to get through the [domestic violence] classes. I really hope he figures it out.”
Defense attorney Arnold Mordkin agreed that the plea deal was appropriate, both because it ensures his client faces “real consequences that he has not had before” and does not “retraumatize” the victim through the trial process.
“It may sound like I’m sitting in the wrong chair when I say this, but it’s a sad instance when victims don’t report the essence of a crime sooner,” he said. “I understand all the reasons that doesn’t happen, but then it goes on until it becomes more painful.”