Judge says plea in ski rage case 'lenient'

Man could face more severe punishment

— A Routt County judge reluctantly gave tentative approval Wednesday to a plea deal reached in the case involving a Littleton man who assaulted a 16-year-old girl on the slopes of the Steamboat Ski Area in January.

Routt County Judge James Garrecht told the court he would need additional documents before he felt comfortable sentencing Randell Berg, 52, to the terms of the agreement reached with the District Attorney's Office.

The plea deal received full support from Larry Combs, Berg's attorney, and deputy district attorney Tammy Jensen. But Garrecht said he thought Berg's punishment should be harsher than what was stipulated in the plea agreement.

"My gut reaction is that this plea is much more lenient than Mr. Berg would be entitled to," Garrecht said. "This is a very bizarre occurrence. No one should ever be assaulted on a ski slope. It's outrageous a grown man would attack a woman. It's even more outrageous for that woman to be a young girl."

Berg was arrested in January on suspicion of attacking and punching a 16-year-old female snowboarder who collided with Berg's 8-year-old daughter on the ski mountain.

Neither girl was seriously injured during the incident.

Berg agreed to plea guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault. In exchange for the guilty plea, Jensen told Garrecht that Berg would serve one year of unsupervised probation, take at least eight hours of anger management classes, perform 80 hours of community service and serve a two-day jail sentence.

During the hearing Wednesday, Jensen told Garrecht that the victim and her family agreed to the conditions of the plea, as did Berg.

"He seems to be very remorseful. He has taken full responsibility for the charge," she said.

Berg's attorney, Larry Combs, echoed Jensen's sentiment.

"Mr. Berg has no hesitation admitting that what he did was wrong. He's been humiliated by the harm he's caused this young lady. He's never treated someone so badly in his life," Combs said.

Attorney Charles Feldmann, representing the victim and her family, said the family also was satisfied with the plea agreement.

"(The family) is relieved to hear the apology from Mr. Berg and that he is taking responsibility for his actions," Feldmann said.

The victim didn't attend Wednesday's hearing, but her mother did.

Garrecht told Jensen, Combs and Feldmann that he would tentatively accept Berg's guilty plea, but that he would postpone sentencing for six weeks to allow time for a pre-sentencing investigation to be prepared.

Judges use pre-sentencing investigations to provide additional insight into a case, including the defendant's background.

Berg is scheduled to next appear in Routt County Court at 11 a.m. April 19.

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