Nystrom pleads guilty to manslaughter, sentencing May 30

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By Marshall Dunham
Staff Writer
The sentencing for Chad Nystrom, the man accused of killing Richard “Dick” Isaacs, will be held on May 30.
“He plead guilty to manslaughter,” explained 6th Judicial District Attorney Alex Lowe. “It’s a class 4 felony.”
Lowe went on to explain that Nystrom could be sentenced to up to six years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
The original jury trial for Nystrom ended in a mistrial as the result of a hung jury on March 22.
During a preliminary hearing in October of 2017, Nystrom entered a not-guilty plea to the charge of first-degree murder, a class 1 felony.
Nystrom was also originally charged with tampering with a deceased body, but that charge was later dropped.
Charges against Charlotte Benally, who was originally charged with being an accessory to first-degree murder, were later dropped, as well.
The shooting of Isaacs, 65, occurred in May of 2017 in the Aspen Springs subdivision.
In a press release issued in May of 2017, the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) states, “The Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office (ASO) announced this evening that at approximately 10:26 a.m. Archuleta County Dispatch received a call from the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) advising that they had been contacted by an individual in Archuleta County reporting that he had shot at and possibly fatally wounded a man. ASO deputies and CSP troopers responded to the scene and confirmed that the individual was deceased.”
An arrest narrative obtained by The SUN outlines the alleged events that led up to the shooting.
“NYSTROM apparently told CSP dispatchers that he shot and killed his neighbor,” reads the arrest narrative. “The dispatcher told me that no law enforcement was on scene yet, and it had not been verified, but the deceased would be found in the scrub oak brush in the backyard …”
The narrative states that the shooting occurred on May 13, 2017, during a get-together on Nystrom’s property in Aspen Springs, and that, following the shooting of Isaacs, Nystrom drove to Grand Junction with Benally.
The two stayed in Grand Junction for a night before returning to Pagosa Springs, then called in the shooting.
The narrative goes on to state that, following the shooting, one of the witnesses told ACSO Detective Sgt. Warren Brown that Nystrom and Benally were outside behind the house near the fire pit when Nystrom allegedly shouted out that there was a man with a gun and told the witnesses to run, with one witness explaining that they ran to the opposite side of the house and heard numerous gunshots.
Statements included in the narrative from witnesses at the get-together allege that Isaacs was in the bushes behind Nystrom’s house, roughly 50 to 60 yards away, and also allege that Isaacs may have had something in his left hand that looked like a shotgun.
Archuleta County Coroner Dan Keuning previously explained that he pronounced Isaacs dead at 12:23 p.m. on May 14, 2017, and that the approximate time of death was between 4:30 and 6 p.m. on May 13.
He described the manner of death as homicide, and that the cause was multiple gunshot wounds to the head, neck, chest and abdomen.
Nystrom was originally arrested on a charge of second-degree murder, and Benally was originally arrested on the charge of being an accessory to the crime of second-degree murder, a spokesperson from the ACSO previously told The SUN.
During a prior hearing, Lowe stated that Nystrom had fired 15 shots, with five of them hitting Isaacs.
marshall@pagosasun.com