Aspen man gets four years in prison for drug-fueled fight with girlfriend
ASPEN – An Aspen man was sentenced to four years in state prison for his role in a drug-fueled fight with his then-girlfriend.
Aaron Michael Anderson, 34, sobbed as he told Judge James Boyd he needs help for his self-described drug addiction and mental health problems that have put him in trouble with the law for years.
He apologized to the victim, who did not attend the hearing because she is in rehab, and called the episode a dispute over “a lousy 25 dollars.”
He said his continued cocaine use made him “delusional” and caused “rages” that he now regrets.
Anderson was arrested Sept. 3, an hour or so after he punched, elbowed and pinned down the woman, who suffered cuts to her eye, ear, cheekbone, right foot, right shin, right forearm, abdomen and throat. He also allegedly told the woman that “I will drive you up Independence Pass and throw your body off a cliff so no one can find you. I will then kill your mother.”
District Judge James Boyd said Anderson’s previous criminal history, which includes separate felony convictions connected to domestic violence and drug use, left him with no option but to send him to prison. Anderson faced a prison sentence ranging between two and six years.
While Boyd said he believed Anderson’s statements that he wanted to change his life for the better, Anderson’s checkered past did not prompt him to alter his behavior. Anderson had previously served a jail sentence of one year and a prison sentence of two years. He was on parole in California at the time of his most recent arrest.
“[The previous jail terms] haven’t cause you to be a law-abiding citizen or to be clean and sober,” Boyd told him, adding that the “hard part is will you feel that way … when you get out.”
As Boyd explained his rationale for the sentence, Anderson chimed in several times, saying he was ready to turn his life around.
Court testimony from the victim indicated she had a role in the dispute as well. In a preliminary hearing in October, the victim testified she felt Anderson, who worked at a downtown restaurant and a lodge, was not going to kill her.
She also testified that the dispute began when Anderson discovered she had taken $25 in cash from his pants pockets while he was sleeping in his employee apartment at the Independence Square Lodge. The victim said she took the cash to buy gas to drive up Independence Pass, where she met her mother at the top. When she returned to Anderson’s place after the visit, he confronted her about it, and made demands for $500 and drugs.
Despite the episode, Anderson said the victim remains his “closest friend and confidant.”
But his stepfather testified that after Anderson was jailed, the victim stayed with him and Anderson’s mother. The victim would routinely shoot up and did not respect the rules of the house, he said.
“We took [the victim] into our home,” he said. “[The victim] is not used to authority figures. We thought we could make a difference in [her] life but failed to do so.”
The stepfather said Anderson has faced difficulties the past two years, including the deaths of his biological father and his grandmother. He spoke highly of his stepson.
“He was on the right track until [the victim] crossed boundaries and got his goat, so to speak,” he said.
Anderson was given 131 days credit for the time he has served in the Pitkin County jail. The four-year prison sentence also will run concurrent with the six-month sentence he is to serve in California for parole violation.
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It might be public service serving on Aspen City Council but it doesn’t pay enough, the majority of electeds say. That’s why they are proposing to give their successors a $12,000 raise.