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Law professors weigh in on Club Q shooting suspect's 2021 case

One questioned why prosecutors didn't file different charges that wouldn't need the cooperation of family.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The judge who eventually approved a defense motion to dismiss the Club Q shooting suspect's June 2021 bomb threat case also warned during a hearing in August 2021 that the suspect was planning something worse.

Court documents detail Judge Robin Chittum's concerns, which came nearly a year before felony charges were eventually dropped.

"Yes, a million dollars is a lot for a bond," Chittum said during the August 2021 hearing. "And I don't think it's appropriate to leave it at that, but I have here a very, very aggravated allegation of the threatening, the kidnapping, and the holding of your grandparents. And then things just went unhinged. And it looks like it could have been worse because you had plans for it to be worse."

Law enforcement arrested Anderson Aldrich in June 2021. The case was dropped in July 2022 because the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office said they couldn't serve subpoenas to the key witnesses, including the suspect's grandmother, who had moved to Florida.

"Colorado doesn't have jurisdiction in Florida or really any other state to just go and serve a subpoena," said Ann England, a law professor at the University of Colorado. 

She isn't surprised prosecutors struggled, since the grandparents lived out of state. England said prosecutors would have to ask Florida to open a case and serve a subpoena for that witness to come to a Florida court.

"Then the Florida court would order them to come to Colorado on a certain date," she said. 

"Because the majority of the case happened, and the people who were threatened were the grandparents, the only way that those statements that were made could come in at their trial was through the grandparents directly," she said.

In June 2022, Aldrich's grandmother filed a motion to quash her subpoena. She claimed she had not been personally served in compliance with state law.

The court document said she had become aware of a "foreign subpoena left in her mailbox or front door but not given to anyone in the house."

Investigators said they found guns and over 100 pounds of bomb-making materials after the suspect's arrest in 2021. Months later, transcripts show the grandparents told the court Aldrich is "a sweet young man" and would "take advantage of a second chance."

"Even if the grandparents, the family members, were not cooperating, why did they not try to bring additional charges, different charges, that did not need any cooperation from the grandparents?" asked University of Denver Associate Criminal Law Professor Ian Farrell.

Farrell wonders if the district attorney's office could have tried something else to at least get the suspect on some charges.

"There were certainly grounds for charging him with obstruction of justice and interfering with the police and the lawful exchange of their duties," he said. 

England said proving Aldrich owned the bomb-making materials could have been challenging without the grandparents saying the items belonged to the suspect.

The felony charges were dismissed in July 2022. Less than six months later, the district attorney's office filed 305 counts against the same person for the Club Q shooting.

Howard Black, a spokesperson for the district attorney's office, told the Associated Press prosecutors filed charges in the 2021 case based on the evidence they had and what they ethically believed they could prove in court.

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