Aspen teen pleads in Mountain Chalet, other cases
An Aspen teen involved in three recent high-profile cases pleaded guilty Monday to burglarizing a downtown hotel and an unrelated incident involving his then-girlfriend.
The 17-year-old will spend the next two years on probation after admitting to breaking into the Mountain Chalet in January and to not allowing his girlfriend to use her phone to text her mother. He must remain sober and will be tested for drugs and alcohol during the next two years and must perform 60 hours of community service.
“For the next two years, you are accountable in ways most kids are not,” District Judge Chris Seldin told the teen Monday. “You’re going to have to be Mr. Clean, even when your friends are not. The stakes are high.”
The 17-year-old was first arrested after police investigated a Jan. 2 break-in at the Mountain Chalet, when alcohol was stolen, and an incident of vandalism at another downtown hotel. He then voluntarily surrendered his phone to police and was cooperative, said Don Nottingham, Aspen prosecutor.
“Unfortunately (the phone) did show a lot of behavior that was troubling,” Nottingham said. “That led to charges related (to what was found on the phone).”
Those charges included menacing with a deadly weapon and other counts that were dismissed Monday after the teen accepted the plea deal.
The 17-year-old also was part of a group of teens who were partying at the home of a 19-year-old Aspen High School senior before and after the Mountain Chalet incident. That situation led to charges being filed against the 19-year-old, Joseph Lipsey IV, and his parents, Joseph Lipsey III and Shira Lipsey, for providing drugs and alcohol, including cocaine, to minors.
Finally, the teen also was in the news in March after an Aspen police officer in uniform approached him at a bus stop and warned him to stay away from his daughter. The teen claimed the officer threatened to “murder” him at that point, though a subsequent investigation by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation failed to find evidence of the threat and the officer was reinstated.
On Monday, it appeared the teen’s interactions with local law enforcement haven’t improved much. Police were apparently called in recent days to a local hotel gym where he is allowed to work out and spoke with him about why he was there, Nottingham said. He reacted as if law enforcement is out to get him, he said.
Scott Troxell, the teen’s public defender, said he counseled his client not to react in a confrontational manner to police, who are clearly quick to believe he’s in the wrong.
“(He’s) a bit distrustful of law enforcement,” Troxell said. “I am also distrustful of law enforcement. It’s why I do my job.”
Nottingham asked Seldin to sentence the 17-year-old to another brief sentence at the juvenile jail in Grand Junction to ensure he understands the consequences of not toeing the line. The judge, however, said the teen had already spent enough time in the jail — about six days — to get the flavor of it.
“I don’t think you need further detention at this point,” Seldin said.
The teen received a positive report from Youth Zone, which attempts to keep teens on the straight and narrow, and had been doing what is expected of him, according to his parents. That fact helped convince the DA’s Office to offer the plea, Nottingham said.
If he successfully completes the probation period, the guilty pleas could be expunged from his record, Troxell said.
In another court development Monday, A 24-year-old Carbondale man admitted to striking a man with brass knuckles last summer in a drug-related dispute.
Israel Carreno pleaded guilty to felony attempted second-degree assault and is likely to be sentenced to 90 days in jail when his case is next addressed July 16.
Carreno, his then-19-year-old girlfriend, Lily Snyder, and others allegedly attacked a man at his home in the Carbondale area in July, then chased him inside the home after the victim was able to break free. Snyder, Carreno and another man were charged with breaking in to the man’s home.
Later evidence indicated the victim may have stolen a quantity of marijuana from Snyder and others, according to court documents.