Police: California fugitives arrested in Aspen traffic stop
May 30, 2014
A man and woman from California — described as fugitives from authorities in that state — were arrested by Aspen police on Saturday following a Main Street traffic stop.
Nathan F. Smith, 25, of Los Angeles, and Sara A. Petrill, 27, of Norwalk, made their initial appearances in Pitkin County District Court on Monday. Both face felony failure-to-appear charges stemming from alleged crimes committed in California, according to court filings by District Attorney Sherry Caloia. In their home state, Smith faces a parole violation while Petrill is accused of burglary.
Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan said that both Smith and Petrill have extensive criminal backgrounds. Smith has previous convictions for theft while Petrill’s include burglary, she said.
Judge Gail Nichols set Petrill’s bond at $50,000 cash or surety. But she denied bond for Smith, who faces a felony charge of criminal impersonation because he allegedly gave false identification to Aspen police officer Ritchie Zah during the late-morning traffic stop. Other Aspen charges against him include speeding, a traffic violation and driving without a valid license, a misdemeanor.
The criminal impersonation charge carries a potential sentence of one year to 18 months, Nichols said.
Bryan told Nichols that police searched the vehicle Smith was driving, a black Jeep SUV, and found a device used to make credit cards. Smith appeared to grow agitated during the hearing, and Nichols warned him not to speak unless she sought answers from him.
“I don’t like it here,” Smith said. “I’d rather go to prison in LA.”
“If you plead guilty, I’d sentence you to prison in Colorado,” she said. “You can’t plead guilty now, I won’t let you.”
A few minutes later, Nichols warned Smith again.
“It looks to me you’re not always being respectful to jail deputies,” the judge told him, adding, “You’ve got the best jail possible.”
Soon after, a deputy temporarily removed him from the courtroom.
Speaking to Petrill, Nichols explained the process of extradition. Bryan said California authorities have indicated they will pay to bring her back.
During the bond discussion, public defender Sara Steele said Petrill has been staying at a relative’s house in Parker and that she was not aware of a pending arrest warrant in California. She said Petrill had applied for a job in Parker and was trying to start a new life.
Steele sought a $2,500 bond for Petrill, but Nichols said a higher amount, as requested by Bryan, was more appropriate given the previous convictions. Nichols said if Petrill makes bond she will be allowed to live with family in Parker.
The couple’s next court appearance was scheduled for June 2.