Aspen-area man enters guilty plea, avoids road-rage trial
The Aspen Times
An Aspen-area man pleaded guilty Tuesday to disorderly conduct following an alleged road-rage incident in February involving a pizza-shop delivery driver who passed him near the Highway 82 roundabout.
The 49-year-old a local residential real estate broker, officially admitted guilt to the petty offense under a plea agreement with the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. A misdemeanor charge of harassment was dismissed by the court.
The driver told authorities that the 49-year-old man shoved him against a garage wall and threw him to the snowy ground outside a Riverdown Drive house after he had just made a delivery. By agreeing to plead guilty to the disorderly-conduct offense, the man avoided a trial scheduled for last Friday.
Pitkin County Court records show that he was ordered to pay a fine of $200 plus court costs. A hearing to address the victim’s restitution claim of $455 has been set for Jan. 13.
The man said Tuesday that he disputes the findings of the Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy who investigated the incident as well as the statements by the pizza-shop delivery worker and a witness. The man said he only pleaded guilty because he wanted to move past the incident and avoid further legal costs.
He said he was the one who was threatened with bodily harm, not the delivery driver.
“I will challenge the restitution claim until the day I die,” he said. “I’m still fired up about this. I plan to file a complaint with the sheriff.”
A report written by Deputy Ryan Turner states that early in the evening of Feb. 2, the driver, an employee of Taster’s Pizza, had just finished making a delivery on Maroon Creek Road. As he was headed to his next delivery location at a residence on Riverdown Drive, near the Aspen Business Center, he encountered a “very slow-moving vehicle” and passed it just west of the roundabout, the report says.
After making the delivery on Riverdown Drive, the driver said he encountered the 49-year-old man, who was yelling obscenities.
“(The victim) responded to (the man) and explained to (thee man) that he was driving too slowly and that (he) needed to make his deliveries on time,” Turner’s report said. “(The victim) stated to me that (the man) then grabbed him by his shirt with both hands and began slamming him against a garage door, and then threw (him) into the snow.”
A witness backed up the delivery driver’s story, according to Turner.
The 49-year-old man said Wednesday that the deputy’s account was a “misrepresentation” of what actually happened. Had he gone to trial Friday, “they would’ve lost,” the man said, referring to the victim and prosecutors.
The man said he wasn’t trying to track down the driver to confront him. He said he lives near the residence where the pizza-shop driver was making a delivery and that his only goal was to tell the driver to slow down.
“The kid tailgated me on the way down Maroon Creek Road,” he said. “He was glued to my bumper. He fish-tailed and nearly crashed into me at the roundabout. My son was in the car. I was only trying to tell him that he needed to slow down.”
The driver, according to the man, “came unglued.” He stood in the way of his vehicle, preventing him from leaving, the man said.
“I stuck his head in the snow,” the 49-year-old man said. “I thought that would be the end of it. It was self-defense.”
He also said that the delivery driver said he was carrying a knife. There is no mention of a knife in Turner’s report.
“(The man) maintained that he believed he was defending himself, however, (the man) did later admit to me that he was at fault and responsible for the incident with (the victim),” Turner wrote. “(The man) repeatedly apologized for his actions and added that he shouldn’t have done what he did.”
Thee man, who denied Wednesday that he admitted his guilt to the deputy, wasn’t arrested that day. Turner issued him a summons to appear in court and listed the charge as harassment.
The man also disputes a court record showing that the plea agreement required him to attend an anger-management class. He said he attended a counseling session at his own behest but not to address an anger-management issue.
“I needed to sort it out myself,” he said. “Nobody told me that I had to do it.”
Editor’s note: This story was amended in November 2020 to remove the name and photograph of the man who pleaded guilty after his court penalties were met on the misdemeanor charges.
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