The mother of Colorado Springs mass shooting suspect Anderson Aldrich was briefly ejected from a court hearing Thursday after a profanity-laden outburst directed at the judge.
Laura Voepel, 45, was ejected from her virtual court appearance in El Paso County Court — where she was appearing on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest — after she called Judge Yolanda Fennick an “(expletive) dumb (expletive)” in what her attorney said was an outburst driven by a mental health condition.
Voepel was arrested hours after the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs after police showed up to search the apartment she shared with 22-year-old Aldrich, who is accused of carrying out the Nov 19 attack at the LGBTQ nightclub that killed five people.
Voepel was arrested for making unreasonable noise after she wailed in distress when officers told her that Aldrich had murdered someone, Voepel’s attorney, Carrie Thompson, said in court Thursday. Thompson successfully argued to Fennick that the body camera footage showing Voepel’s mounting distress that night should be included as evidence in the case without it being subject to particular legal conditions that guide evidence around a defendant’s mental state.
“The officers locked her out of her apartment. It was about 8 degrees, in the middle of the night,” Thompson said in court. “Then she became even more agitated and more distressed… She was wailing and crying and making very loud noises asking for help: ‘Please help me.’ She must have said that 30 or 40 times.”
The officers who arrested Voepel opted to take her to a hospital for mental health treatment that night, not to jail, Thompson said.
Prosecutor Andrew Vaughan argued that Voepel’s defense team was trying to present evidence of Voepel’s mental state as a defense to her actions without meeting the correct legal procedures, an argument that Fennick ultimately rejected.
“The defense is trying to backdoor insanity evidence without trying to go through the insanity procedure,” he said in court.
Voepel, who appeared virtually, interjected during the hearing several times, prompting Fennick to mute her. Voepel then appeared to scream or shout at her computer screen and at one point banged her fist against the computer several times while crying. Voepel also posted several comments in the virtual courtroom’s chat.
“There was no crime. Please dismiss these charges. I was a mother in shock,” she wrote. “…The Police (sic) wanted me to pay for what my son had done. I am innocent.”
She unmuted herself several times before Fennick ejected her from the virtual courtroom after the outburst in which Voepel addressed the judge with profanity. Fennick considered holding Voepel in contempt of court but opted not to after Thompson explained that Voepel’s outburst was driven by a mental health condition.
Voepel rejoined the virtual courtroom shortly after her ejection and typed an apology in the chat. She also said she planned to move to Florida in July.
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