Aspen road rage trial gets under way |

Aspen road rage trial gets under way

ASPEN ” A six-member jury in Pitkin County District Court heard arguments Tuesday in a civil trial over a 2006 road rage incident in which a man allegedly sprayed another motorist with mace.

The alleged victim, Jarrod Hollinger, is suing Scott Courts for unspecified damages.

The trial follows the July 2006 incident in which Hollinger was hospitalized after catching a stream of mace in his face. Courts, meanwhile, allegedly drove away from the site of the altercation, at the S-curves on the outskirts of downtown Aspen.

The episode was ignited when Courts ran a stop sign at Seventh and Hallam streets. The two motorists traded heated words, and Hollinger testified that he honked and yelled at Courts for ignoring the stop sign. Hollinger said he could not remember if he swore.

The two continued to exchange words “and then [Courts] sprayed him with something and then took off,” the arrest report said.

Hollinger testified in trial that getting sprayed was the most physically painful experience of his life.

A major issue in the trial is whether Hollinger got out of his truck. Courts told police Hollinger came toward him menacingly so he acted in self defense, although Courts could not describe Hollinger’s pants or shoes to police.

Retired Aspen police officer Dan Glidden testified that he concluded Courts had sprayed Hollinger while the two were sitting in their respective vehicles, which appeared to be in close proximity to each other. Glidden also testified that Courts said he was afraid of being accosted and panicked.

Both men were arrested on misdemeanor charges. Charges against Hollinger were dismissed. Courts managed a plea deal and received deferred sentence on a municipal misdemeanor charge of assault and battery.

The jury is expected to deliberate late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Aspen attorney John Case is representing Hollinger, while attorney Jonathan Cross is counsel for Courts. Judge James Boyd is presiding over the trial.

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