A Woody Creek teenager who was dealing with five separate criminal cases pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor and one felony Monday morning during a one-hour hearing in which authorities spoke about how the youth was getting a chance to turn his life around.
Included among the five cases were 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. Through an agreement accepted by Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin, the teen pleaded guilty to obstruction of telephone service, a misdemeanor, and second-degree burglary, a felony.
The Aspen Daily News is not naming the teen because he is a juvenile.
Following the guilty pleas, Seldin sentenced the 17-year-old to two years of supervised probation. He also will be required to complete 60 hours of community service.
Part of the discussion centered around whether the youth, who recently was expelled from the high school he attended, should be given “juvenile jail time.” Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham agreed with public defender Scott Troxell that the youth had been taking steps to correct his life, performing well in YouthZone, a local diversion program.
Still, Nottingham sought a short term of detention for the teen, noting his distrust of law enforcement. The 17-year-old is the same youth who alleged that Aspen police officer Marcin Debski threatened his life at a local bus stop in March.
The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office decided not to take action against Debski, citing results of a probe by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation that found Debski’s denial that he threatened the youth to be credible. However, a concurrent Aspen Police Department internal investigation resulted in a “corrective action plan” for the officer, according to a news release.
In the end, Seldin opted against detention after Troxell argued that there would be no benefit to the action. The youth’s parents also vowed to keep him on track, with his mother saying that juvenile detention doesn’t offer the positive environment her son needs.
Her son, she said, has “lost a lot.”
“He is doing well at home with guidelines,” she said. “We’re trying to offer him an opportunity to enjoy things. It’s been beneficial to have him home. We would like him to stay with us.”
Seldin told the teen that he’s not the only youth who’s broken the law. But had he remained on the delinquent track he was on, he would have reached a dead end known as “state prison,” the judge suggested.
He said the youth could look at the situation as a wake-up call.
“It’s my belief you are that guy who needed a cold bucket of water dumped over your head,” Seldin said.