Suspect in shooting free during probe

A Glenwood Springs man arrested last week in the fatal shooting of his girlfriend has been released from jail after prosecutors decided they need more time to determine whether charges should be brought against him.

Glenwood police had arrested James McCabe Mallin, 28, on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Audrey Lowndes, 40, shortly after the incident just after midnight April 15 at a trailer on South Grand Avenue. She was hit in the back of the head and critically wounded, and died after being taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.

According to an arrest affidavit, Mallin told police he found Lowndes sitting in a bedroom with her back to him and his rifle in her hands, and it fired when he pulled the butt of the gun.

Mallin was being held in Garfield County Jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond. Prosecutors hadn’t yet filed formal charges and were scheduled to do so April 30.

However, on Tuesday they asked the court to dismiss the pending case, at least for now.

“There is insufficient evidence to proceed with criminal charges at this point,” 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia said in a news release.

In an interview, she said she’s still awaiting a coroner’s ruling on the death.

“It could be accidental, which means different things. It could be a homicide, I’m not sure,” she said.

Even a finding that the death was accidental doesn’t rule out the possibility of bringing charges such as manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide, she said.

“We’re trying to determine whether there are any charges warranted based on what we know now, and of course getting ballistics and toxicology and fingerprints and other scientific testing could assist with that decision,” she said.

“… I’m not one to jump at charging someone with a murder case if there’s any question there.”

A police investigation will continue.

In the meantime, “I didn’t think it was right to have (Mallin) sit in jail when we really don’t know whether we have a case at this point and we’re probably not going to know for a few weeks.”

Asked whether he might be a flight risk during the investigation, she said, “Mr. Mallin has longstanding ties to the community and very minimal criminal history.”

The arrest affidavit indicated that Mallin, Lowndes, and Mallin’s father and roommate had been drinking before the shooting. It also said the roommate reported hearing Mallin and Lowndes arguing for about 15 minutes before he heard the gunshot.

Caloia said witness statements are part of what prosecutors are considering in their charging decision.


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