The Woody Creek teenager whose life was allegedly threatened by an Aspen police officer, leading to his suspension while state authorities investigate, appeared in court Monday for a judicial review of his five cases.
The 17-year-old faces 11 charges, including distribution of Xanax, menacing, tampering with evidence, burglary, theft, two protection-order violations, and domestic violence-related false imprisonment and harassment, according to court records.
In the hearing, Judge Chris Seldin of Pitkin County District Court was told the teen has been in home detention for three months and faces expulsion from Aspen High School.
But prosecutor Don Nottingham said the 17-year-old, “to his credit, has done a pretty good job” since first being arrested, and Bruce Benjamin, juvenile-crimes investigator for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, complimented the defendant for not incurring additional charges. Nottingham had sought detention for the teen after he turned his phone over to police, based on what was in the device. Details of what led to the charges are not public, as cases involving juveniles are sealed.
Scott Troxell of the public defender’s office told the judge that the family is seeking alternative schooling and sought to have his court-ordered ankle monitor removed, and Nottingham said he could think of no reason why the teen would still need the monitor.
The judge agreed to its removal, saying all juvenile defendants are given second chances, though he warned the teen to not contact the protected party who is the subject of the restraining order. That led to two of the charges.
“You’re showing me that you’re taking it seriously,” Judge Seldin said. “You’re showing me you’re capable of turning your life around.”
On March 20, the teen’s father called the sheriff’s office and lodged a complaint against Aspen officer Marcin Debski. That day, the 17-year-old had been at the county health and human services building to take a drug test.
He said Debski approached him at a nearby bus stop and asked him if he knew who the officer was. The teen said no and that he didn’t want to speak to him.
“The officer told [the teen] that he was speaking to [him] as a father and not as a police officer,” and asked him if he knew who his daughter is, wrote Jesse Steindler, a patrol director with the sheriff’s office, citing the teen’s statement. “[The teen] replied that, yes, he did know his daughter.
“The officer said that if [the 17-year-old] talked to his daughter or tried to sell [her] drugs, the officer would ‘murder’ [the teen].”
Debski has been placed on administrative leave, and the sheriff’s office has handed over the investigation to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. Steindler wrote that he told Bill Linn, an assistant Aspen police chief, that the teen’s complaint “fit the parameters of a harassment charge and possibly a menacing charge and … I considered it to be a criminal investigation.”
Police Chief Richard Pryor on Monday said the CBI will forward the results of its investigation to the DA’s office for any decision related to charges. The department, along with others in city government, will “formulate how to proceed with any internal discipline,” he said.
In other court news, the attorney for Angela Callen, the former executive director of the Red Brick Council of the Arts, told Judge Seldin that a plea agreement is in place, save for one condition that the lawyer, Mark Rubinstein of Aspen, did not name. He asked for one more continuance. Nottingham declined comment afterward on what the deal entails.
She is charged with four felonies for allegedly funneling tens of thousands of dollars to her failing snowboard business, student and business loans, and “extraordinary personal spending,” according to her arrest warrant.
The charges against Callen, 37, of Basalt, include theft and embezzlement of public property, with an investigator alleging she stole nearly $160,000 from the nonprofit arts group and the city-owned Red Brick Center.
She is next due in court May 6.