A Carbondale man who in April pulled a knife on another man at the Regal nightclub pleaded guilty to misdemeanor menacing in Pitkin County District Court on Monday.
Saul Mendez-Rivas, a carpet installer, was sentenced by Judge Gail Nichols to one year of unsupervised probation following the guilty plea. His attorney, Mark Rubinstein, pointed out that Mendez-Rivas has a strong work ethic and no prior criminal record. Initially after his April 12 arrest, he faced a felony charge of menacing with a deadly weapon.
An immigrant, Mendez-Rivas may be subjected to an increased chance of deportation or denied U.S. citizenship because of the guilty plea, Rubinstein said.
“Mr. Mendez-Rivas is going into this with his eyes wide open,” Rubinstein said.
In the Aspen Police Department affidavit supporting the arrest, officer Andrew Atkinson wrote that two witnesses, both men, told police they were hanging out at the club with their girlfriends when an intoxicated Mendez-Rivas, who was familiar with one of the women, tried to talk to her. He then asked one of the women to help him sign the bill for his tab, Atkinson said.
When one of the men tried to help him sign the bill, the suspect became agitated and started cursing, Atkinson said in the report. The man then pushed Mendez-Rivas back and Mendez-Rivas pulled a knife, police said.
The man who felt threatened told Mendez-Rivas he would meet him outside, and Mendez-Rivas left the club, the affidavit states. The man then contacted the club’s security director who called police.
Rubinstein said in court Monday that the knife was actually a small pocketknife that Mendez-Rivas uses for his job. Mendez-Rivas felt threatened after being pushed by a jealous boyfriend and wasn’t instigating a fight, his attorney said.
“He made a bad decision,” said Rubinstein. “It wasn’t his intent to use the knife.”
Through a Spanish-language interpreter, Mendez-Rivas apologized for his action.
“I am really sorry. It was really a terrible decision I made in pulling (the knife) out,” he said.
Nichols said she doubted that Mendez-Rivas had significant issues with alcohol use, If he had, he likely would have gotten into trouble before, she said.
“There’s no reason to believe he needs supervision,” Nichols said.
Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bryan said her office was OK with a sentence of one year of probation without jail time.