Prosecutor arrested for DUI after rollover accident

by Chad Abraham, Aspen Daily News Staff Writer

A prosecutor in the 9th Judicial District was arrested early Wednesday for driving under the influence of alcohol after he rolled his vehicle near Aspen Village.

Matthew Pearson, 39, who lives in Aspen Village, also was cited for careless driving and failure to show proof of insurance.

Pearson is a deputy district attorney in the Rifle office, handling misdemeanors, DUIs and other traffic cases, said his boss, District Attorney Sherry Caloia on Thursday. She confirmed that this is the second offense related to drunken driving for Pearson, who was hired in March after he had finished law school.

Joe DiSalvo, Pitkin County sheriff, said deputies were called to the scene of a rollover accident at Highway 82 and Aspen Village Road just after 11 p.m. Tuesday. They handed the accident over to the Colorado State Patrol, as is standard practice for car accidents on the state highway.

Trooper Kimberly Jenkins, in an arrest affidavit, wrote that when she asked Pearson for his driver’s license, insurance and registration, he told her that “he didn’t have his insurance transferred to his new vehicle yet because he just bought it.”

When asked what caused the crash, Pearson allegedly said that he accelerated over a speed bump and lost control of his 2013 Chevy Uplander.

“While talking with Mr. Pearson, I detected a strong odor of an unknown alcoholic beverage on his person,” Jenkins wrote. “Mr. Pearson was very repetitive and appeared to be incoherent in his speech.”

Pearson allegedly failed voluntary roadside maneuvers and refused to take either a breath or blood test. He was taken to Pitkin County Jail early Wednesday and released on a $3,000 bond.

He declined comment on Thursday.

Caloia said she had not yet decided on Pearson’s future with her office, adding that she planned on speaking with him today.

“It’s very unfortunate, [and] it puts me in a very bad position,” she said. “It’s hard for me to have prosecutor who prosecutes DUIs and traffic offenses” being accused of the same thing.

“It’s not something that I think works very well,” Caloia said.

As a registered attorney, Pearson has a duty to report any convictions to the Colorado Supreme Court’s disciplinary body, she said. The high court likely won’t take any action unless he is convicted.

Caloia said Pearson’s other alcohol-related offense happened in 2006 or 2007, before he joined the legal profession. Having a DUI-related incident on a person’s record does not preclude him or her from getting a job as a prosecutor, she said.

Caloia also said Jason Slothouber, the deputy district attorney who handles misdemeanor and DUI cases for Pitkin County, will recuse himself. A special prosecutor will be appointed to handle Pearson’s case.

Pearson is due in court Jan. 7.