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Denver man in Garfield County Jail after high-speed chase ended in his arrest June 25 near Silt

A Denver man remained in the Garfield County Jail on Monday facing a laundry list charges including aggravated motor vehicle theft after he led police on a high-speed chase on Interstate 70 west of Glenwood Springs last Thursday afternoon.

The 30-year-old suspect remained in custody Monday on $11,500 bond after making an initial court appearance Friday to be advised of charges that also include driving while under the influence of drugs and possession of stolen license plates and credit cards.

Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies picked up a vehicle chase at about 3:50 p.m. June 25 involving a stolen red Prius that began in Eagle County westbound on I-70.

According to an arrest affidavit in the case, pursuing officers from Eagle County pulled back at the Hanging Lake Tunnel in Glenwood Canyon and advised Garfield County officers to be on the lookout for the stolen vehicle coming through Glenwood Springs.

The police chase resumed just past the West Glenwood exit in Glenwood Springs, reaching speeds of more than 100 miles per hour through South Canyon and past New Castle before a spike strip halted the vehicle just west of Silt.

Upon approaching the vehicle after it had stopped, officers reportedly observed several syringes on the floor of the car, and the suspect upon being removed from the car “appeared to be very high,” possibly on heroin, according to the affidavit.

After the suspect was arrested, a search of the vehicle turned up two license plates that had been reported stolen out of the Denver area, as had the car. Also found among the man’s possession were four credit cards, two Colorado ID cards and a blank check not belonging to the suspect.

The suspect is due back in court July 16 to answer to charges including felonies for vehicle theft, theft of the license plates and credit cards, drug possession with intent to distribute, and possession of weapons by a previous offender, plus several misdemeanor charges.

Basalt police deploy Taser to subdue man after he allegedly swung chair at cop

A Basalt Police Officer deployed his Taser gun Thursday afternoon after an unruly man allegedly swung a chair at him outside a busy restaurant in Willits, according to Police Chief Greg Knott.

The officer used one cycle of the Taser on the suspect.

“It brought him under control and (the officer) was able to get him in handcuffs,” Knott said.

Basalt police were called to Willits Town Center at 2:22 p.m. on two reports of disorderly males — one who had fallen into a construction fence and cut his head and another of a different man harassing people about one block away from where the first man was injured. Knott said officers found both men belligerent after apparently drinking during the afternoon. They had gone their separate ways and ran into trouble.

The injured man was uncooperative with police. He was taken into protect custody and taken by ambulance to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs for treatment of his head cut.

The second man allegedly exposed himself to a 15-year-old girl and was yelling at other people. Once subdued outside a restaurant at 3:13 p.m., he was also taken to Valley View Hospital as a precaution after the Taser was deployed, Knott said. He was going to be transported to Eagle County Jail once he was checked at the hospital.

The arrested man’s name wasn’t immediately available Thursday afternoon. He will be charged with indecent exposure and attempted second-degree assault on a police officer, Knott said.

While officers and ambulances crews were attending to the belligerent men, another call went out for a report of a gas smell in the building that houses Mezzaluna and Capitol Creek Brewery in Willits. Roaring Fork Fire Rescue evacuated the building, checked the smell, determined there was no danger and allowed people to re-enter.

scondon@aspentimes.com

David Lesh reaches plea deal in illegal Independence Pass snowmobile case

A Colorado business owner’s publicity stunts involving illegal use of public lands could get him temporarily banned from the White River National Forest.

David Lesh, 35, the owner of outdoor clothing company Virtika Outerwear, was fined $500 on Tuesday and ordered to perform 50 hours of useful public service this summer for illegally riding his snowmobile July 3, 2019, in designated wilderness near the summit of Independence Pass. Wilderness areas are closed to mechanized and motorized travel.

Lesh and another snowmobiler who hasn’t been identified were observed sledding near the Upper Lost Man trailhead by Karin Teague, executive director of the Independence Pass Foundation, and two colleagues. They reported the incursion to the U.S. Forest Service, which was able to track down Lesh from photos he posted on social media.

The plea arrangement involving the fine and useful public service was announced in federal court in Grand Junction.

“We’re happy to see the charges were filed and went through,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said Tuesday.

Lesh was cited for four petty offenses for the Independence Pass snowmobile event: possessing of using a motor vehicle in a designated wilderness, prohibited to operate or possess an over-the-snow vehicle on National Forest Lands in violation of restrictions, damaging any natural feature or other property of the United States, and selling or offering for sale any merchandise or conducting any kind of work activity. For such offenses, the punishment was consistent with other cases, Fitzwilliams said.

“Hopefully it sends a message that we take illegal and irresponsible behavior seriously,” Fitzwilliams said.

While the case was winding its way through the federal court system this spring, Lesh allegedly rode a snowmobile illegally in a terrain park at Keystone ski area, which was closed because of the coronavirus. He also posted pictures recently of himself walking on a log jutting out into pristine Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon. At the time of the post, a regional closure of developed facilities was in place by the U.S. Forest Service. That prohibited access to the lake.

Lesh has also posted photos of himself snowmobiling on closed terrain on Mount Elbert and standing on a sled submerged in a stream near Steamboat Springs. A biography on one of his social media accounts says he is a part-time resident of Colorado.

Even as his court appearance in the Independence Pass case loomed, Lesh posted pictures of himself allegedly undertaking the illegal activities at Hanging Lake and Keystone. Fitzwilliams said all information collected by the Forest Service about those incidents was forwarded to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Fitzwilliams said he has witnessed several times during his career where repeat offenders of illegal activity on national forest were banned from use of public lands, at least temporarily.

The prosecutor in the case, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Hautzinger, said in court Tuesday he intends to file charges against Lesh for the other incidents.

“All of them have been documented by photographs the defendant took and posted to social media,” Hautzinger said.

Lesh’s actions have produced a backlash. A petition posted via change.org and circulated on Facebook calls for the state of Colorado to revoke the business license of Virtika for encouraging the destruction of protected ecosystems. As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 13,800 people had signed it.

The petition accuses Lesh and his company of abusing public lands to bring attention to his company. Fitzwilliams said his office has received scores of emails, texts and calls encouraging aggressive prosecution for the offenses.

“The public is very angry with this,” he said. “One thing we know is people love their national forest. It’s nice to see so many people care.”

He indicated he shares the belief that Lesh’s behavior is in pursuit of publicity.

“We hope that Mr. Lesh finds a different avenue to gain attention,” Fitzwilliams said.

Teague said she isn’t confident that Lesh is remorseful for his actions.

“I think he won’t even feel a $500 fine,” she said. 

Public service, in theory, is a worthwhile sentence, she said. If not for his other alleged infractions after the Independence Pass incident, she would have been willing to have Lesh volunteer on conservation projects on the Pass.

“There’s not a cell in my body that feels he will change, that any of his professions for remorse are genuine or that he cares for the landscape,” Teague said.

The only punishment Lesh might feel is if his company isn’t supported, she concluded. 

Any new charges against Lesh are unlikely to be unveiled before his next federal court appearance on Sept. 15 in Grand Junction. At the hearing Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Gordon Gallagher said Lesh must complete his useful public service by Sept. 5.

Hautzinger said the plea agreement was arranged after Lesh’s initial court appearance on Feb. 25. It specified that the useful public service should be performed in the national forest where the infractions occurred. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, it has been understandably difficult for Lesh to complete the service, Hautzinger said.

Lesh’s attorney, Stephen Laiche of Grand Junction, said his client attempted to arrange public service in Wisconsin, but was unable to find anything satisfactory. He said Lesh wanted to complete the 50 hours with Only One Inc., a Boulder-based organization that Laiche indicated was tied to a Native American cause. Laiche didn’t identify what type of tasks Lesh would undertake with Only One to fulfill his public service. Neither the judge nor the prosecutor inquired.

GuideStar, a clearinghouse for information on nonprofit organization, raised red flags about Only One Inc., which it classified as a multipurpose arts and cultural organization.

“This organization’s exempt status was automatically revoked by the IRS for failure to file a Form 990, 990-EZ, 990-N, or 990-PF for 3 consecutive years,” said a notice on GuideStar. “Further investigation and due diligence are warranted.”

Efforts by The Aspen Times to reach David Atekpatzin Young, who was identified by Laiche as the contact at Only One, were unsuccessful. Previous news reports identified Young as a member of the Genizaro Apache Tribe.

Lesh’s notoriety isn’t limited to the land. Lesh was also involved in a plane crash off the coast of California in August 2019. No one was injured.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause of the crash, saying at the time that it usually takes up to a year to determine the cause of an accident.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Aspen homeless camp assault leads to felony

On Thursday — the same day a county official said all was well at the intercept lot homeless camp — one camp resident was arrested for assaulting another and breaking his nose, according to court documents.

Aubrey Fuller, 31, was charged with felony second-degree assault because he allegedly caused serious bodily injury to the victim, who suffered the nose injury and had to have stitches in his lip, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Emergency dispatchers were notified of the incident at 5:40 p.m. Thursday and met the victim at Aspen Valley Hospital. The victim told Pitkin County sheriff’s deputies he got into a verbal argument with Fuller and Fuller hit him hard twice in the face, the affidavit states.

When deputies later entered the homeless camp — which has been set up by county public health officials as a safe space for area homeless people to live during the pandemic — Fuller stood up and loudly said, “Here we go,” according to the affidavit.

When a deputy asked if he was Fuller, he greeted them with a racial slur and said, “I don’t talk to the f—ing police.”

“I then advised (Fuller) that I was not the police, that I was Deputy Curt Donaldson with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office,” the affidavit states. “(Fuller) then stated, ‘F— you I don’t talk to the f—ing police.”

When asked why he punched the victim, Fuller said it was because he wouldn’t stop talking to and touching him.

Fuller was arrested without incident. His only identification was a Colorado Department of Corrections identification card, which are issued to prison inmates in lieu of a driver’s license.

A witness to the incident told deputies that the victim had been trying to speak with Fuller and “began tapping (him) on his shoulder,” according to the court document.

“(The witness) stated that when (the victim) turned away, (Fuller) stood up and hit (him) in the head very fast and very hard two times,” according to the affidavit. “(The witness) stated that (Fuller) was a very violent person.”

Fuller was being held Friday at the Pitkin County Jail in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

At a COVID-19 community meeting Thursday afternoon, which ended around the time of the alleged assault, Pitkin County’s Health and Human Services director said the camp was currently housing 17 people at the intercept lot, which is located at the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Highway 82. Public health officials have set up washing stations, bathrooms, bear-proof food containers, propane for heat and a camp host at the lot to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, said Nan Sundeen.

“It’s working really well,” she said Thursday, noting that social distancing and temperature checks were being conducted.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

DA sets new deadline for plea offer in Basalt High School teacher’s sexual assault case

The court case of a former Basalt High School teacher arrested on suspicion of engaging in sex with a male student has stalled over the inability of the prosecution and defense to reach a plea agreement.

For the fourth straight month, the case was continued Tuesday to provide more time for the attorneys to negotiate.

Brittany von Stein, a former choir and music teacher, was ordered by Garfield County District Judge James Boyd to appear again July 14. Von Stein was arrested at her home in Carbondale Sept. 4 and charged with three counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. She allegedly engaged in sex with a male student at her house when he was a minor.

Von Stein’s attorney, Michael Fox, told Boyd on Tuesday that he received a plea offer from the District Attorney’s Office on Monday and hadn’t been able to thoroughly discuss it with his client. He filed a motion for a continuance of the case.

Assistant DA Zac Parsons said June 23 is the deadline for von Stein to accept the deal or go to trial.

“The offer is the same offer we previously extended,” Parsons said. “We just confirmed that this is the same offer. We are not willing to change the offer despite the request to do so. We are in a position where that offer expects to expire June 23.”

Fox had sought a continuance in a May 12 hearing so he could present additional information to the prosecution team. The DA’s Office agreed to the delay so it could fully analyze all information. The comments by Parson on Tuesday made it clear that the information wasn’t enough to alter the plea offer.

“They have had an offer to think about for quite some time,” Parsons said. “I know there have been attempts to change it but ultimately this case needs to go forward.”

Boyd set the case for July 14 but he stressed to von Stein that just because the case was set for that date, it didn’t alter the DA’s deadline for a decision on the plea offer by June 23.

scondon@aspentimes.com

Man arrested at El Jebel City Market after gun threat

Basalt police officers arrested a Texas man Tuesday morning after he entered the El Jebel City Market, put his arms in the air and yelled that he had a gun.

Brandon Smith, 40, was taken into custody without incident, according to Basalt Police Lt. Aaron Munch. The man had no gun and no one was injured, Munch said. Smith was found in possession of brass knuckles, the officer said.

Smith was arrested on suspicion of felony menacing and possession of an illegal weapon, Munch said. He was taken to Eagle County Jail.

Police received the initial call at 10:06 a.m.

“We got a call that a man came into the store, put his hands in the air and said, ‘I’ve got a gun,’ ” Munch said.

Munch arrived on the scene within six minutes and was informed by a woman in the parking lot that the suspect was inside by the Starbuck’s counter, he said. Munch said he approached the man at the counter and quickly suspected there was a mental health issue. He said Smith was talking incoherently.

“He felt as though people were out to get him,” Munch said. “He was compliant and cordial.”

He placed Smith in handcuffs and led him outside the store without incident. The man had apparently come to City Market to get a cup of coffee. Upon arrest, Smith asked Munch if he could bring his coffee with him. Munch said he told him “no” and didn’t see that he had a drink anyway.

Smith apparently drove to the grocery store and said he was staying with friends in the El Jebel area.

Making the incident even stranger, Munch said, was that a customer in a mask had approached Smith during all the commotion because of a concern that Smith wasn’t wearing a mask.

“It was not a safe thing,” Munch said of the customer approaching the man who claimed to have a gun.

Munch said he didn’t witness any pandemonium when he first arrived on scene. People were milling about their parked vehicles outside. Managers inside were moving people toward the exit or in the aisles away from the suspect. Munch and three other Basalt officers responded to the scene.

Social media rumors quickly and erroneously labeled the event an active shooting incident. Whole Foods Market briefly went on lock down out of concern, Munch said.

Basalt police posted information on Facebook at about 12:30 p.m. to dispel the rumors.

Report: ‘Unhinged’ Basalt man threatens residents

A Basalt man has been charged with stalking one female neighbor, harassing and racially taunting another and allegedly extorting a former roommate — all in the past two weeks, according to police reports and court documents.

Christopher Rose, 51, faces four felony charges, as well as several misdemeanors, for allegedly harassing the two people for money — and psychedelic mushrooms as well in one case — and repeatedly threatening all three of them, according to the documents.

“When I get out of jail, I’m going across the street, getting drunk, going back to Basalt and it’s going to be a massacre,” Rose told a Basalt police officer who arrested him June 1. “A f—ing massacre.”

Problems with Rose began May 24, when Rose’s neighbor told police he had been repeatedly harassing her both when she was in her home and when she’d leave to smoke a cigarette in her car, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

The alleged harassment included yelling, “You better pay me my money!” outside her bedroom window at 12:30 a.m., yelling at her from his deck to pay him $20 and leaving a handwritten note on her car demanding money, the affidavit states.

“(The neighbor) said she has always gotten along with Rose but in the last few weeks he has become unhinged and has been verbally attacking one of their neighbors,” according to the document. “(The reporting neighbor) said that she has begun defending (the other neighbor) when Rose becomes verbally abusive towards (her).”

The next day, the woman, who “looked very scared and was shaking,” called police and told them that Rose knocked on her bedroom window again the night before demanding money and telling her if he didn’t get it, ‘your life is f—ed,’” the affidavit states. The next morning, she said he pounded on her window again while screaming she had five minutes to pay up and calling her “a little troll.”

Rose screamed at a police officer and ripped up a summons for harassment before storming off when police located him, according to the affidavit. He was later served another summons.

On May 31, the neighbor called again and said Rose was continuing to harass her, including following her and approaching her on the street aggressively, according to the affidavit. He also sent her numerous text messages in which Rose called her names, including racial epithets for Asians and African Americans, the affidavit states.

Rose was arrested by Basalt police for stalking June 1 and taken to Pitkin County Jail. The next day, District Judge Chris Seldin allowed him out of jail on a personal recognizance bond, which means he put up no money to get out of jail.

Before his arrest June 1, Rose allegedly called a former male roommate six times, then called the man’s boss in Aspen three times, according to an Aspen Police report. He allegedly demanded $100 or a half-ounce of psychedelic mushrooms and threatened to tell the man’s boss he was stealing if he didn’t pay, the report states.

When Aspen police contacted Rose at the jail and charged him with extortion, he told them he understood not to contact his former roommate again. Instead, Rose told police he would “rob” the man, the report states.

“He made a lot of threats … including having seven guns at his house and that the ‘community’ will regret holding him in the jail overnight,” according to the report. “He explained he had a bomb at his house.”

The former roommate said he moved out after Rose kicked down his locked bedroom door.

On June 5, the first neighbor Rose allegedly harassed called police and said he was yelling at her. The woman, who is of Asian descent, recorded Rose calling her names and telling her she was in “big trouble,” the affidavit states. The names include repeated use of a racial epithet for Asian people.

That got Rose charged with violating a protection order — the neighbor was a named a protected person after Rose’s first arrest — as well as felony intimidation of a witness, commission of a bias-motivated or hate crime, and violation of bail bonds conditions.

Rose had not yet been arrested on the outstanding arrest warrant as of Monday afternoon.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Suspect in 2017 Aspen rape case arrested in Colombia by U.S. marshals

When Mauricio Hoyos-Hernandez finished work Friday in Bogota, Colombia, he had a surprise waiting for him outside.

That’s when a team of U.S. marshals stationed in the country, along with deputized members of Colombian law enforcement, arrested the former Aspen resident for allegedly raping a woman here he met while out partying one night in April 2017, a local law enforcement official said Monday.

“I got a call kind of out of the blue (Friday) from the Colombian U.S. marshal,” said Jeff Fain, a former Aspen police detective and now an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office. “He said they were sitting outside his work waiting to arrest him.

“It’s been a three-year process, basically.”

Hoyos-Hernandez, 34, is in a Colombia jail awaiting extradition to Aspen, which could take as long as six months, Fain said. Hoyos-Hernandez will face a charge of felony sexual assault when he arrives.

“I’m really, really proud of the work that continues to go into this case,” Aspen Assistant Police Chief Bill Linn said. “With crimes against a person, there’s an actual victim out there so you don’t want to ever give up on them. Otherwise there’s no closure for the victim.”

Fain interviewed Hoyos-Hernandez in April 2017 after the victim in the case went to the emergency room at Aspen Valley Hospital and said she thought she’d been sexually assaulted, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court in May 2017.

Hoyos-Hernandez admitted to having sex with the extremely intoxicated woman, though he was unclear about details and said it was consensual, the affidavit states. Surveillance video from the bus, however, made clear that the woman was on the verge of passing out and could not possibly have consented to sex, according to the document.

Further, the woman told Fain that not only was Hoyos-Hernandez not her type and she was not attracted to him, but that throughout their conversation that night, which started at a local Italian restaurant, she thought he was gay “and thus the concept of flirtation never entered her mind,” the affidavit states.

However, before police could arrest him on the warrant — which was signed May 4, 2017, by District Judge Chris Seldin — Hoyos-Hernandez apparently fled the country.

It was not clear Monday how long Hoyos-Hernandez lived in Aspen, though he had a Truscott address when he fled and a previous arrest in January 2014 when a former girlfriend told police they’d been together for a year, according to police reports. He worked at a high-end clothing store in Aspen, Fain said.

When it became clear that Hoyos-Hernandez likely fled back to his home country of Colombia, Fain started researching the international extradition process, he said. It turned out to be daunting, though with the support of Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham, they “jumped through all the hoops and filled out all the forms,” Fain said.

The process involved much contact with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, as well as the approval of the American and Colombian governments, Fain said. Finally, in January, the Colombian government approved the arrest warrant for Hoyos-Hernandez and the months-long search for him in that country began, culminating in Friday’s arrest.

Fain and Linn said they heard from second- and third-hand sources during the Hoyos-Hernandez investigation that there might be other victims in Aspen or the Roaring Fork Valley. If any other victims do exist, they can call APD at 970-920-5400 and ask for Detective Ritchie Zah, officials said.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Aspen neighbor’s alleged harassment escalates

An Aspen woman who allegedly used a pick axe to attack her neighbor’s house Thursday in retaliation for a prior misdemeanor complaint involving police was arrested and charged with a felony, according to court records.

Lisa Ruggieri, 57, faces one count of felony retaliation against a witness after she was allegedly caught on video repeatedly attacking a wall of the house next door, the other side of which is the room of her neighbor’s 10-month-old son, according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed Friday in Pitkin County District Court.

“(The neighbor) mentioned that due to this incident, his wife and 10-month-old had left the house to go stay (elsewhere) for the night,” the affidavit states.

Aspen police initially tried to contact Ruggieri because she called them Thursday and said she wanted to report a harassment. When an officer called her back, she was “extremely rude” and eventually said a female neighbor was following her around the neighborhood, according to the affidavit.

She told an officer “the neighbor was ‘trying to convince her of her line of thinking and I’m telling her that I don’t want to listen,’” the document states.

The officer saw that Ruggieri had been cited for harassing her neighbors about two weeks before, so he contacted that neighbor. The man told him he thought Ruggieri was calling about another neighbor who’d earlier been trying to calm Ruggieri from an “anger episode,” according to the affidavit.

In the course of the discussion, the neighbor also reported that a family member had taken video footage of Ruggieri kicking a water jug against the side of their house where his son sleeps. He forwarded the videos to the officer.

The first showed Ruggieri kick a large plastic water jug against the home five times, while the second depicted her “slamming a rock twice into the side of (the) residence,” the affidavit states.

“The third video sent to me … shows Ruggieri kicking a rock into the side of part of (the) house and then using a pick axe near the base of the house,” according to the affidavit. “The pick axe looks as though it’s hitting part of the house near the base of the siding but it’s hard to tell from the angle of the video.”

District Judge Chris Seldin allowed Ruggieri out of jail Friday on a $2,500 personal recognizance bond. That means she didn’t have to put up any money to be released from jail, though she will owe the court $2,500 if she doesn’t show up for future court dates.

Seldin also filed a mandatory restraining order and warned Ruggieri not to have any contact with her neighbors.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

Judge reluctantly accepts Aspen woman’s multi-DUI deal

A Jekyll-and-Hyde local woman arrested for drunken driving twice in a week last summer while out on bond for a third DUI should have been carted away to prison Monday, a judge said.

“She has shown herself to be a menace to society,” District Judge Chris Seldin said. “That, to me, clearly warrants a Department of Corrections sentence.”

Leslee Francis, 56, however, was not sent to prison Monday and, instead, will spend the next four years on probation with the chance to wipe the felony DUI she pleaded guilty to last month from her permanent criminal record.

“I don’t have another relapse in me,” Francis told the judge. “I’m done. I’m probably too old. I want to live a beautiful, clear, present life. I’ve got great momentum and I’m not going back, sir.”

Seldin said he had to think long and hard about whether to accept the plea deal Francis signed last month with the District Attorney’s Office. While it’s rare, judges do not have to accept plea deals, but the denial sends the case nearly back to square one in the criminal justice system.

Seldin has presided over Francis’ cases through her various arrests and her participation in Pitkin County’s Recovery Court — which deals mainly with addiction issues — since he was appointed to the bench four-and-a-half years ago, and said Monday that he liked her.

“I do know Ms. Francis, and Ms. Francis is a nice person,” Seldin said. “She was well-liked in Recovery Court.”

However, she also is “a vivid example” of a nice person on one hand and “an absolute menace to society when in the grips of addiction” on the other, he said. Seldin noted the “remarkable” details of Francis’ two DUI arrests last summer, when court records indicate she drove after taking sleeping pills.

First, on July 30, Francis nearly a hit another car head-on while driving down Highway 82 at approximately 20 mph under the speed limit with her headlights off in the dark near the Maroon Creek Bridge. Four days later, after posting bond and leaving jail, Francis backed into concrete barriers at a local gas station before driving away and being pulled over in a “stuperous state,” Seldin said.

And all that occurred, the judge said, while Francis was awaiting trial on yet another DUI, which occurred Mother’s Day 2018 on Main Street with her teenage son in the car.

“I find that to be wholly aggravated in the amount of disregard shown to the community and the inability to manage addiction,” Seldin said.

Still, Francis has never been to prison before, and Seldin said he likely would have given her a two-year-sentence absent the plea deal. But she’s already spent 191 days behind bars at the Pitkin County Jail in connection with the arrests, so the difference between that and the prison sentence, where she would been given those days of credit and earned the right to get out early with good behavior, was negligible, he said.

Francis, in a clear voice, also said she was clean and sober and participating in a continuing care program she was dedicated to and happy with.

“I feel like I’m starting a new life,” she said. “I’m a different person than I was before.”

In the end, Seldin said he decided to honor the agreement between the DA’s Office and Francis, though it came with a stern warning.

“You’ve already earned a sentence to the Department of Corrections in my opinion,” the judge said. “If (your case) comes back on a violation of probation, you have to consider yourself absolutely warned.”

jauslander@aspentimes.com