A grand jury has dropped the charge of attempted first-degree murder against Charles Alexander Diez, the Asheville firefighter accused of shooting at a cyclist. Diez is now facing a felony assault charge that carries a much lower potential penalty.
Currently free on a $200,000 bond, Diez was served a warrant Aug. 6 on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Attempted first-degree murder, a Class B2 felony, carries a 125- to 157-month prison sentence for someone with no criminal record. The assault charge, a Class E felony, carries a 20- to 25-month sentence.
Diez has no prior criminal record and, according to police, was sober at the time of the incident.
Grand juries deliberate in secret, and District Attorney Ron Moore says he submitted both the assault and attempted-murder charges. He told Xpress that he doesn't know why the grand jury rejected the murder charge.
Asheville police had charged Diez, a firefighter since 1992, with attempted first-degree murder after he allegedly fired a .38-caliber handgun at cyclist Alan Simons July 26. The bullet ripped through the lining of Simons' helmet and, according to police, came within less than an inch of striking him in the head.
Simons was riding with his wife and 3-year-old child, and Diez had begun arguing with Simons, saying it was unsafe to have the boy in a child bike seat behind him. When Simons began to walk away, Diez allegedly opened fire.
Moore said he would "talk with the officer involved and see if there's any new evidence. If there is, we can re-submit the charge [to the grand jury]."