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Woman shot by homeowner faces trespassing charge

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May 26, 2012 08:57 PM EST | AP

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BOULDER, Colo. — A 21-year-old woman who was shot in the hip by a Colorado homeowner after police said she drunkenly wandered into a house now faces a felony trespassing charge, prosecutors said.

Zoey Ripple, who graduated from the University of Colorado earlier this month, entered a couple's Boulder home through an unlocked door at around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, police said.

Ripple apparently ignored warnings from the couple that they had a gun and walked into their bedroom. Homeowner Timothy Justice fired one shot in the darkness, police said.

When Justice and his wife switched on the lights, they saw Ripple on the floor with a gunshot wound. They later told police they did not recognize her as anyone they knew.

Ripple was hospitalized with a fractured hip but has been released and is able to walk, defense attorney Colette Cribari said Saturday.

Cribari said the incident was "out of character" for Ripple, who has volunteered in soup kitchens in Boulder County, helped organize a campus coat drive last winter and spent the summer of 2010 teaching English to children in Guatemala.

"She didn't enter the house with any intent of committing a crime or harming anyone," Cribari said. "We're thankful she was not killed or more seriously hurt, but we're disappointed they decided to file charges on top of all this."

Prosecutors will likely file the charge against Ripple next week, the newspaper said. They don't plan to file charges against Justice – Colorado law allows residents to use deadly force against trespassers who intend to use force.

Justice and his wife, Doreen Orion, are both psychiatrists. According to a 1999 online article in Psychiatric News, Orion was stalked for at least a decade by a schizophrenic woman she treated briefly at an Arizona hospital. The woman followed her to Colorado and moved into the same Boulder neighborhood, the article said.

Colorado court records show that a restraining order was issued in 1994 against a Denver woman, who was then 42, The Daily Camera reported. The reasons for the restraining order – or whether it was connected to the stalking case – weren't clear.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said his office usually prosecutes about a dozen cases a year involving drunken trespassing.

The main goal in prosecuting such cases is to get defendants treatment for their alcohol habits, he said. The felony trespassing charge can carry a sentence of one to five years in prison, but Garnett said prosecutors often opt for treatment or lesser pleas instead of prison time.

"We try to help the person get the treatment they need for their drinking," he said.