An Aspen man was sentenced to one year in prison Monday for attempting to possess more than a gram of cocaine at a downtown bar.
After a string of several other run-ins with police, Jesse James Coleman was arrested at Eric’s Bar on Aug. 6 after police say a bouncer accused him of trying to sell cocaine there. Aspen police arrived and when a dispatcher checked Coleman’s record, police learned of a court order banning him from drinking alcohol. As it turns out, the court order was mistakenly in the system and Coleman was allowed to drink alcohol at that time, according to his attorney Lauren Maytin, calling it “an absolute total error.” After he was arrested, police say they found six bags of cocaine hidden up his sleeve.
But because the initiation of the error was the fault of the courts, and not police or the dispatcher, what would otherwise be a slam-dunk suppression case became far more challenging, Maytin said, so her client opted to plea.
The original charges were dropped and Coleman pleaded guilty to attempting to possess cocaine. The mandatory minimum for the charge is one year, which is what Judge James Boyd sentenced Coleman to as recommended by Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin under terms of the deal. Coleman was credited for 137 days served in jail.
The sentence caps a turbulent two years for Coleman, who was arrested for allegedly robbing BB’s Wings ‘n’ Q in Glenwood Springs, beating up a man he thought cheated him in a poker game and fighting with a bouncer at Club Chelsea in that time.
In other court news:
— A young man arrested in Pitkin County for allegedly breaking an infant’s ribs over the spring was sentenced to 45 days in jail Monday in a plea deal that saw him receive a four-year deferred sentence for felony child abuse resulting in serious injury.
Mason Levi Martin, 21, admits to being negligent, his attorney and the prosecutor agreed, but he in no way intended to harm the child, they said.
Judge James Boyd signed off on the conditions of the plea deal, pointing out the father’s young age and positive steps he has taken to remain employed and sober. If Martin stays out of trouble for four years, the child abuse charge will stay off his record. If he gets in trouble, he could be automatically adjudicated guilty of the felony. He was also ordered to do community service.
— Mark Montijo was given a one-year deferred sentence for felony menacing Monday, ordered to perform 80 hours of community service, pay restitution, undergo anger and substance abuse evaluations, and write letters of apology to two men.
Montijo, of Carbondale, was originally accused of attempted murder after an altercation with two other men outside of Eric’s Bar. One of his victims appeared in court to report that he was “severely concussed” for two weeks and has been diagnosed with a type of vertigo he may have for the rest of his life as a result of Montijo blow to his head. He said the injuries have affected his ability to work and been a serious burden on his family.
Mordkin said restitution has not yet been determined but estimated it to be in the “tens of thousands” of dollars.
Montijo’s attorney, Lawson Wills, doubted whether restitution would be that high, and argued that the fight was “self-defense” as Montijo believed the two men he injured were intoxicated and threatening him. The mistake Montijo made, Wills contended, was that after dropping his victims with single punches, he kicked the head of one of the two victims who was on the ground.
Asked to address the court, Montijo apologized for what happened, saying he wished he could “take the everything back” and he “regret[s] the whole thing.”
During sentencing, Judge Boyd said that whatever led to the conflict, Montijo made “the wrong choice — a choice we expect adults not to make.”
If Montijo stays out of trouble for a year, the felony will stay off of his record. If he doesn’t, he could be automatically adjudicated guilty.
— Plea deals are in the works for former Aspen police officer Joe Holman, accused of child exploitation, as well as Christopher “Christian” Melendez, accused of strangling and attempt to murder a co-worker from the “Cougar Hunting” film crew, Mordkin said. He and their attorneys requested and received more time to continue those discussions. Pleas deals could be finalized in the next month.