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Ex-state trooper pleads guilty

Posted: Thursday, Jan 10th, 2013

Benjamin Nicholson

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — A former Colorado State Trooper who assaulted his mother and stepfather last April pleaded guilty on Monday to charges stemming from the incident.

By formally admitting to the crimes of felony third-degree assault to an at-risk person and misdemeanor third-degree assault, Benjamin Nicholson gave up his right to a jury trial that was scheduled to begin on Jan. 30.

The 36-year-old man will now return to 12th Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift’s courtroom on March 5 to be sentenced on both charges.

He faces a possible penalty of one year to 18 months in state prison on the felony count, along with a potential fine that could range from $1,000 to $100,000. The misdemeanor charge could lead to a potential county jail sentence of six months to two years, as well as a possible fine of $500 to $5,000.

Apart from the potential fines, Nicholson has already agreed to pay more than $4,487 in restitution.

The April 22, 2012 incident began as a verbal argument about parenting, when Nicholson lost his temper and began yelling at Verna and Kenneth Felmlee. But it quickly escalated into a physical altercation.

According to an April 2012 affidavit and application for an arrest warrant, Nicholson pushed his 69-year-old mother into a China cabinet, punched her chest and ribs, and pushed her down to the floor of the couple’s Mosca-area home.

Kenneth Felmlee was injured when he tried to step in between them.

The then-71-year-old man told a sheriff’s deputy that Nicholson assaulted him and pushed him to the floor, as well. Felmlee sustained a large bruise to one arm during the assault.

Nicholson’s mother was treated at San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center for more extensive injuries, including bruises on both arms, her right shoulder and her back. The most serious injury occurred after Nicholson pushed her to the floor, when she broke her left ankle.

In his verbal and written statements to an Alamosa County Sheriff’s deputy, Nicholson admitted that he assaulted his mother.

Nicholson left his job with the state patrol exactly one year before the incident occurred. He had worked for the agency since 2000, and cited personal reasons for his departure.

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