Aspen cop-kicker pleads as legal saga continues
A local homeless man with a history of attacking Aspen police officers and changing his mind in court changed his mind yet again Friday.
Landin Smith, 52, withdrew his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, which was entered in September, and instead pleaded guilty to one felony count of assault on a police officer and one misdemeanor count of assault, which also was on a cop.
Prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz agreed not to seek prison in Smith’s cases. He could be sentenced to the community corrections program, a rigorous option that is often the last step before a prison sentence, or to as many as 120 more days in jail when he is sentenced later this month, said Garth McCarty, his lawyer.
Friday’s plea hearing was the latest in a long, drawn-out saga that began in February 2015 when Smith attacked an Aspen police officer who was driving him to a detox facility. He was released from the Pitkin County Jail 10 months later, but was almost immediately arrested again for being drunk and disorderly at an Aspen homeless shelter.
After he was transported to jail again, Smith kicked an Aspen police officer and has remained in jail ever since.
In that time, he’s twice been found competent to stand trial. He’s also been examined by doctors at the state psychiatric hospital in Pueblo as well as a private psychiatrist and found in both examinations to be sane, McCarty said.
His cases were almost disposed of in February 2016, when he pleaded guilty to two felony counts of assault on a police officer. However, three months later he claimed his public defender hadn’t properly advised him of the consequences of those pleas and said he wanted to withdraw them and fire the lawyer.
Smith’s cases then started over again in the criminal justice system after McCarty, a Glenwood Springs attorney, was appointed to represent him.
In a lengthy and redundant argument Friday, McCarty attempted to prod District Judge Chris Seldin into letting Smith out on bond before his sentencing. Oszczakiewicz objected to that option, saying that officials have spent untold resources in recent months trying to deal with his case and letting him out when he’s repeatedly demonstrated that he can’t control his alcohol addiction would undermine all that work.
Seldin agreed, saying that releasing Smith without a stringent plan in place to support his sobriety would be a disservice to him.
Smith spent three years in prison for kicking another Aspen cop in 2009. A month after he was released from that sentence, he returned to Aspen, kicked another officer and was sentenced to six months in jail.
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Kevin Warner started his career with the U.S. Forest Service as a wilderness ranger in 2001. Now he’s taking over the key position as Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.