Aspen transient back in jail for theft hours after release | AspenTimes.com

Aspen transient back in jail for theft hours after release

Hours after a District Court judge let him out of jail Monday for allegedly stealing a car, a 21-year-old transient was arrested again for theft, according to court records.

Joseph Watkins behaved strangely after he was arrested, including trying to jump over a second-story railing at an apartment complex and pretending he was blind at the Pitkin County Jail, according to an affidavit filed in Pitkin County Court.

Then, during his advisement in county court Tuesday, Watkins told Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely he wanted to advise her of her rights. Fernandez-Ely then stopped the proceeding and ordered Watkins to undergo a psychological evaluation at the state psychiatric hospital in Pueblo.

Watkins was first arrested Sunday after police identified him through a receipt from a local marijuana dispensary that was left in the car he allegedly stole from behind a downtown business. He was charged with felony theft and felony trespassing in that case and appeared in Aspen District Court on Monday morning.

At that point, public defender Molly Owens argued that despite being on probation in California for possession of a stolen vehicle, Watkins should be released on a personal recognizance bond. Prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz objected to the bond.

District Judge Chris Seldin decided to give Watkins a chance and released him on a $7,500 personal recognizance bond, meaning Watkins put up no money to get out of jail but will owe $7,500 if he fails to show up for court.

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Watkins was released Monday afternoon and later showed up at the homeless shelter at the Pitkin County Health and Human Services building, according to the affidavit filed Tuesday. At the shelter, he asked a 50-year-old man if he had any marijuana, and the man "got Watkins 'high,'" the affidavit states.

Both men returned to the shelter's main room, where the 50-year-old man plugged in his cellphone "and turned his attention to his computer," according to the affidavit.

"Watkins came over and sat next to him near the phone for a few minutes and then abruptly 'bolted'" at about 5 p.m., the affidavit states. "(The 50-year-old man) noticed minutes later the phone was gone and the charger was left behind."

At about 11:15 p.m., police received a noise complaint from an apartment building on Marolt Place. When an officer arrived, he recognized Watkins, who was walking down a flight of stairs to leave, according to the affidavit. The officer stopped Watkins, who then dropped what later turned out to be the stolen cellphone over the railing and onto the sidewalk 15 feet below.

"After I handcuffed him he began yelling and trying to jump over the nearby railing," the affidavit states.

The officer restrained Watkins until a Pitkin County sheriff's deputy arrived to assist him. Watkins acted "erratically" on the way to the jail, then "became even more animated at the jail," according to the affidavit.

"He pretended he was blind and would not sign his summons," the officer wrote in the affidavit.

Watkins was charged with misdemeanor theft for the cellphone.

jauslander@aspentimes.com

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