Claudine Longet and Spider Sabich
Andy Williams rushed to Aspen to support his ex-wife, who spent the night of the killing at the home of John and Annie Denver.
She needed the support.
When friends of Sabich began whispering that the skier had grown weary of Longet, public opinion in laid-back Aspen turned against the Frenchwoman.
"Everybody hates her," one resident told Newsweek.
Longet did not help her personal P.R. by going around Aspen wearing a T-shirt stamped with the sports logo "No Sweat."
She attended the Sabich funeral and burial in California, then returned to Aspen to learn she was being charged with reckless manslaughter, a felony with maximum penalties of 10 years in prison and a $30,000 fine. Longet hired Charles Weedman, a hired-gun criminal defense attorney from Los Angeles, and Aspen lawyer Ron Austin.
From the outset, Longet said the shooting was an accident. She told the first two cops who questioned her that she was fooling around with the gun.
The cops said Longet told them she aimed at Sabich and made a gunshot sound — "boom-boom" or "bang-bang."
Longet pleaded not guilty, and a trial was scheduled for January 1977.
It was a modern prototype of the celebrity-crime spectacle, played out over a couple of weeks at the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen.
Gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, who lived in Aspen, said the trial was "like fouling your own nest."