Aspen cop-kicker enters insanity pleas
The saga of a local man charged with assaulting Aspen police officers on two separate occasions last year continued Tuesday when he entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the cases.
Landin Smith, 52, now will be sent to the state psychiatric hospital in Pueblo, where doctors will conduct a sanity evaluation, said District Judge Chris Seldin, who accepted the insanity plea.
“Our mental state is definitely impaired,” Smith told Seldin. “We’re not going to grab a knife and run down the street stabbing people. That’s crazy.”
Smith frequently speaks about himself in the plural.
Smith pleaded guilty to two counts of felony assault on a police officer in February. However, three months later, he fired his public defender and began making noises about withdrawing the plea because he said the lawyer didn’t properly advise him of the consequences of the plea.
On Tuesday, he officially withdrew the plea and entered the insanity plea instead. If doctors find he’s insane, Smith would be committed to a state psychiatric facility indefinitely until he is determined not to need hospitalization anymore, Seldin said.
Garth McCarty, Smith’s current lawyer, first told Seldin on Tuesday he planned to have Smith withdraw his plea and enter a plea of not guilty in the two assault cases and another case charging violation of bail bond conditions. But Smith on Tuesday said he didn’t remember a lengthy conversation he had with McCarty two weeks ago about that plan, which prompted McCarty to recommend entering the insanity plea, he said.
Prosecutor Andrea Bryan, however, was having none of it.
“I hope I’m not speaking too candidly,” Bryan said to Seldin. “But … the defendant is playing games with the court. The court should enter not guilty pleas and set this case for trial.”
Smith has already twice been found competent to stand trial, though a determination of sanity is a different standard, McCarty said.
Smith has already spent three years in prison for kicking an Aspen police officer in 2009. A month after he was released from that stint, he kicked an officer again and was later sentenced to six months in jail.
Smith attacked Aspen police Sgt. Dan Davis in February 2015 as Davis was transporting him to an area detox unit. He was held until December in the Pitkin County Jail on that charge until he managed to post bond and was released.
Hours later, he was arrested again when officers found him drunk at an Aspen homeless shelter, which violated his bond conditions. They took him back to the jail, where he kicked Officer Terry Leitch in the leg.
He’s been held at the jail ever since.
In other court news Tuesday:
A self-admitted aggressive driver with a history of speeding tickets was sentenced Tuesday to 45 days in jail after leading a Pitkin County law enforcement official on a chase that reached speeds of 90 mph in April 2015.
Nicholas Smalling, 37, pleaded guilty to reckless driving and will spend two weeks of the 45 days in jail and the next 30 days on work release, meaning he will only have to spend nights at the jail.
“You pose a gross danger to others on the highway when you drive like that,” District Judge Chris Seldin said. “The public shouldn’t have to face these types of risks when they’re just trying to go to work or see their family.”
Pitkin County Undersheriff Ron Ryan arrested Smalling after clocking his 2001 Audi A6 going 79 mph in a 55 mph zone in the Blue Lake area, according to a police report. The pursuit down Highway 82 reached speeds of 90 mph and Ryan backed off because he didn’t want to make the Audi driver go faster, according to his report.
Ryan eventually saw the Audi parked at a business on Southside Drive with the license plates removed. Ryan discovered Smalling inside the business and another deputy later arrested him.
Smalling admitted to Ryan he’s an aggressive driver, but said he didn’t know Ryan was a member of law enforcement because he never saw lights on Ryan’s Chevrolet Tahoe SUV activated, the report states.
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