Plea deal is no taxi cab confession
August 5, 2008
ASPEN ” An Oklahoma businessman accused of assaulting a taxi driver and stealing his cab last summer agreed to a plea deal Monday in district court.
Brooks Mims Talton III, 42, pleaded guilty to charges of misdemeanor harassment and driving while ability impaired in the wake of the July 29, 2007, incident.
That night, Paul Nesvat, a driver with High Mountain Taxi, picked up Talton following an event at the Aspen Art Museum. But when Talton couldn’t direct Nesvat to where he was staying, Nesvat alleged that the confused passenger attacked him.
Nesvat stopped the cab and ran, dialing 911 on his cell phone while Talton took off in the cab.
Police stopped Talton minutes later on Castle Creek Road.
“His behavior on that night was not appropriate,” said Deputy District Attorney Tony Hershey.
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Talton, however, argued that Nesvat was the aggressor and that he was faced with a choice of “necessary evils” to defend himself.
In fact, that was the defense used by his legal team, including local attorney Lawson Wills and Oklahoma lawyer Josh Welch.
“He’s not guilty of any crime here,” Wills told the judge, adding that Talton had no prior police record.
But because Talton had been drinking and put himself in a situation that was “beyond his control,” Wills said his client agreed to the plea deal.
Talton originally faced charges of motor vehicle theft, driving under the influence and misdemeanor assault, but agreed to plead guilty to the lesser charges.
Torn by the men’s wildly opposing stories, Judge James Boyd accepted Talton’s guilty plea.
In exchange, Boyd dropped the motor vehicle theft, DUI and assault charges. The judge said Talton’s addiction problems were the issue the night in question, telling the defendant: “You made the bad choice at the beginning that put you in the context of whatever happened.”
Boyd agreed to a suspended judgment and sentenced Talton to two years of unsupervised probation, including stipulations that he do 30 hours of community service, write a letter of apology to Nesvat, have an alcohol evaluation and stay sober for two years.
Talton also agreed to pay $1,751 to cover workman’s comp costs for Nesvat.
Talton’s other attorney, Welch, testified that since the incident Talton has gone to two in-patient treatment centers, has stayed sober and regularly attends 12-step meetings.
In a brief statement, Talton expressed his apologies to the court, family and friends for putting himself in the situation that night.
Talton also faces a civil suit filed by Nesvat.
The civil case is scheduled to go to a jury trial in June 2009, according to Jeff Wertz, attorney for Nesvat.
Wertz was in court Monday to ensure that he received a copy of the police dashboard camera video of Talton’s arrest for use in the jury trial.