Aspen will help fund inspector’s homicide defense

Rick CarrollThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The city of Aspen has agreed to fund the criminal defense of retired building inspector Erik Peltonen, who faces four separate charges of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of a Denver family of four over Thanksgiving 2008.The council discussed the issue in executive session Wednesday, before formally voting, unanimously, in a public setting, said Sally Spaulding, spokeswoman for the city of Aspen.”While we regret the tragic loss suffered by the Lofgren family, we also believe that criminalizing building inspectors is a major shift in policy that should vigorously be contested by Mr. Peltonen,” Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said in a statement. “Given the novel issues presented in this case, it is important for Mr. Peltonen to obtain expert counsel on his behalf in this matter.” In his first public statement on the matter since being indicted by a Pitkin County grand jury July 22, Peltonen said: “I have been overwhelmed with the local support I have received. Countless contractors, architects and other building professionals, plus so many friends and acquaintances, have offered words of encouragement, and I really appreciate it.”Peltonen, 68, of Basalt, along with Marlin Brown, 56, owner of Roaring Fork Plumbing & Heating in Glenwood Springs, were both indicted on four class-five felony charges of criminally negligent homicide, in addition to four counts each of reckless endangerment.The grand jury indicted a third defendant, Pitkin County building inspector Brian Pawl, on four misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment. The county has offered to pay for his defense. The county also will help aid in the defense of Peltonen, who was working for the city at the time but aided the county in its inspection of the Popcorn Lane home. The day after Thanksgiving 2008, a family friend found the bodies of Caroline Lofgren, 42, her 39-year-old husband, Parker, and their children Sophie, 8, and Owen, 10, in the bedroom of the home in which they were guests. The family lived in Denver.The home did not have a carbon monoxide detector at the time of the fatalities. The sheriff’s office concluded that a dislodged piece of PVC pipe carrying exhaust from a driveway snowmelt system leaked lethal amounts of carbon monoxide – a poisonous, odorless gas – into the