Joel Stonington
Aspen, CO Colorado

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January 15, 2008
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Bizarre twist in Aspen assault case

ASPEN " In a bizarre twist Monday in Pitkin County District Court, a man accused of attacking an Aspen taxi driver over a pack of cigarettes had his bond revoked so he could return to jail.

John McDonald, 44, of Bayside, N.Y., had been free since posting $5,000 bond in November. He is charged with second-degree assault and has yet to enter a plea.

McDonald, who rode a Greyhound bus from New York to Aspen for his court hearing, told District Judge James Boyd that he was broke and needed the $5,000 bond money he put up to get out of jail. Boyd checked repeatedly with McDonald to make sure the suspect knew he was going to be taken into custody.

The lead prosecutor in the case said McDonald's request was not ordinary.

"I've never seen it because most people don't want to go to jail," Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols said. "But obviously he doesn't mind. Essentially he's revoking his own bond, and hey, why not? Now he has a place to live."

McDonald was late for his court appearance Monday, prompting Boyd to issue a warrant for his arrest. After McDonald apologized for his tardiness, Boyd quashed the warrant.

McDonald then explained that he wanted to go to jail and wanted to take care of the matter as quickly as possible. McDonald even suggested he might plead guilty just to speed up the process.

"My situation has dramatically changed since I was last in court," McDonald said. "That's the only $5,000 I had. I almost do not have enough to get home to New York."

McDonald was arrested at 5:07 a.m. on Nov. 5 when police arrived at The Aspen Store, located at Galena and Main street, and found him standing by the open door of the taxi, with blood covering his hands. The taxi driver, Tom Coggins, had a bloody face, police said.

McDonald apparently had found Coggins randomly at The Aspen Store after Coggins had failed to drive McDonald to a place where he could buy cigarettes. The driver then left McDonald when McDonald got angry, police said.

Coggins, a High Mountain Taxi driver, filed a civil suit against McDonald in Pitkin County District Court at the end of November. According to the lawsuit, McDonald's attack broke at least one bone in Coggin's face.

It was the second assault on a High Mountain Taxi driver in less than a year. The first occurred July 30, when an Oklahoma man allegedly assaulted taxi driver Paul Nesvat and stole his cab.

Brooks Mims Talton III, 41, faces charges of motor vehicle theft, driving under the influence and misdemeanor assault. Talton's case was continued Monday until Feb. 11.

jstonington@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 15, 2008 08:08AM Published Jan 15, 2008 01:15AM Copyright 2008 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.