A 23-year-old man described by Aspen police as a transient faces a felony and a misdemeanor stemming from his involvement with a 17-year-old runaway from Araphahoe County.
Russell L. Nelson appeared before Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols on Friday during an advisement hearing. He has yet to be officially charged by the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, but was booked Thursday into the Pitkin County Jail on possible counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and the lesser charge of harboring a minor.
Nichols kept his bond at $5,000 cash or surety but said she would address a possible reduction of bond when he appears in court again on Monday.
Prosecutor Andrea Bryan pointed out that Nelson has an extensive criminal history, all out of state, including offenses related to drug possession, domestic violence and probation violation. She argued against granting Nelson a personal-recognizance bond, which would have allowed him to go free without posting any money.
Nelson told Nichols that he has a relative in Glenwood Springs and that he moved to Colorado “to stay out of trouble.” He said he has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings in Aspen and relying on services at the day homeless shelter off Castle Creek Road. He said he has been sober for more than one month.
Police officer Andrew Atkinson, who wrote an affidavit in support of Nelson’s warrantless arrest, said he and officers Dave Rosselot and Jeff Fain contacted Nelson at the day shelter. Earlier, they had received a report from the teenager’s father in Arapahoe County. The father told police that the Sheriff’s Office in that county had phoned Nelson to state that the girl had been reported as a runaway.
“I spoke with Nelson and I asked if he knew how old (she) was,” Atkinson wrote. “He stated, ‘17.’ I asked if he knew that she was reported missing. Nelson said that he wasn’t sure if she was a ‘runaway or missing.’”
Rosselot, according to Atkinson, searched Nelson’s backpack and found several containers of marijuana that Nelson admitted were his.
Meanwhile, Fain spoke with the teen and learned that she had a pipe in her bra containing burnt marijuana, Atkinson said. The girl told police that Nelson purchased it at an Aspen dispensary and gave it to her.
Nichols told Nelson in court that the recommended sentence for the felony contributing to delinquency charge is two to six years. The misdemeanor harboring charge carries a potential sentence of three months to one year.
Nelson was advised to apply for a public defender.