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Arroyo acts as own attorney

Naomi Havlen
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Despite a judge’s repeated warnings, a man charged with harassment and menacing decided to act as his own attorney during a court appearance Monday.

Martin Arroyo, 37, maintained that he does not want to be represented by the public defender’s office because he says those attorneys did not adequately represent him during a prior case in Garfield County.

Although Judge James Boyd of the Pitkin County District Court ruled that there is no conflict of interest to keep Arroyo from being represented at the state’s expense, Arroyo has a right to represent himself.

He is charged with menacing, harassment and criminal mischief after his ex-girlfriend told police he was “going ballistic” and breaking things at her house.

As he has in the past, Boyd pointed out to Arroyo the risks of not having an attorney to help him out with the “complicated” handling of criminal law.

“It’s my experience that defendants do do a good job of representing themselves, [but] this court feels better when you have an attorney,” Boyd said.

Arroyo has remained at the Pitkin County Jail, although Boyd lowered his bond several weeks ago from $5,500 to $3,000 to help him find representation.

Boyd told Arroyo that if there are any inappropriate disruptions during trial, he could lose the right to represent himself. When asked if he knew how to cross-examine witnesses, Arroyo replied, “I’ll have to learn.”

Arroyo is also the alleged victim in an attempted murder case in Pitkin County. Aspen resident Donald Branson, 54, is accused of slashing Arroyo’s throat last April and planning to leave him for dead in a remote location near Old Snowmass. Arroyo was in a relationship with Branson’s ex-wife, Pam Branson, at the time of the alleged attack.

Pam Branson is the same person who called police about Arroyo in July, resulting in his menacing and harassment charges.

Since Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills is using Arroyo as his chief witness in the prosecution of Donald Branson, special prosecutor Gretchen Buck-Larson was brought in to handle the case against Arroyo.

Arroyo asked for 50 days to review information filed in his case by the prosecution, but Boyd said that was too long and set his preliminary hearing for Dec. 1 at 3 p.m.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com]


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