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Bar brawl trial begins

A Park County jury is hearing evidence this week in a case against a Maryland man accused of brawling at a Powell bar.

Christopher Balderson, 30, is charged with two felony counts of aggravated assault and battery for allegedly kicking Josh Jacobs of Powell in the head while he was down and hitting him with a barstool during a Nov. 21 fight at La Vina Package Liquors. Balderson is also charged with two misdemeanor counts of battery for allegedly punching Powell residents Stephen Hale and Dave Ferfes during the incident.

The jury trial began Monday and is expected to last two days.

Deputy Park County Attorney Tim Blatt said during Monday’s proceedings that the incident was a “cold-blooded attack.” Blatt said testimony would show Balderson apparently believed Hale and Jacobs were staring at him and his friends; they were actually watching a Monday Night Football game, Blatt said testimony would show.

In a surveillance video of the incident shown Monday, Balderson can be seen coming up behind Hale and repeatedly punching him in the back of the head, starting the fight among a number of individuals.

Blatt said Balderson kicked Jacobs in the head while he was down and also hit him with a bar stool during the ensuing fracas, saying he “took that bar room brawl and he escalated that quite a bit.”

Erin Wardell, one of Balderson’s defense attorneys, described the incident differently.

“This is just a bar fight,” she told jurors in her opening statement. Wardell said it was a confusing melee and that Balderson was acting in self defense after being threatened by people at the bar throughout the night.

“He (Balderson) continued to be threatened until he finally just figured, ‘I’ve got to get out of this,’” said Wardell.

Blatt said Balderson’s account isn’t supported by the surveillance camera footage, but Wardell said the video only shows parts of the big picture.

Wardell also argued the prosecution doesn’t have the elements needed to prove aggravated assault and battery.

One aggravated assault charge alleges Balderson used a deadly weapon to injure Jacobs, but “a shoe is not a deadly weapon. A bar stool is not a deadly weapon,” Wardell said. The other aggravated assault charge alleges Balderson attempted to cause serious bodily injury to Jacobs, but Wardell noted that Jacobs did not seek medical attention after the fight.

Back in May, Balderson had told District Court Judge Steven Cranfill he was thinking about taking a plea deal, but later decided to take his case to trial.

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