Basalt man charged in wrong-way crash
ASPEN – A judge set bond at $5,000 for a Basalt man who faces charges of vehicular assault and driving under the influence after he allegedly drove a vehicle in the wrong direction on Highway 82 in Snowmass Canyon and struck another car.
Brenton Merlin, 48, was arrested Sunday by a Colorado State Patrol officer.
Merlin, who has been in Pitkin County Jail since his arrest, was brought into the courthouse in a wheelchair. He told the judge he suffered numerous injuries from the crash.
“I broke my pelvis, damaged my left hand, both of my shoulders, my ankles and feet, and have 30 stitches in my right hip,” he told District Judge Gail Nichols. “I need assistance getting out of bed and into the bathroom.”
Merlin said he spent five days under the care of Swedish Medical Center in Denver. He now is undergoing care from Aspen Orthopaedic Associates, he said.
The accident occurred at approximately 6 a.m. Feb. 29, when a Ford Escape driven by Merlin collided with a Nissan Frontier driven by Rodolfo Argueta, 47, of Glenwood Springs. Argueta was heading east in the eastbound lanes at the time of the accident. The extent of his injuries were not available Monday.
Should Merlin post bond, he is not allowed to consume alcohol and must enroll at The Right Door, an Aspen facility that treats people with substance-abuse issues. The vehicular assault charge is a felony.
In other court developments Monday:
• An El Jebel man was sentenced to two years of probation in connection with a Dec. 15 run-in with his ex-girlfriend.
The sentencing of Jamie Lee Patton, 24, came after he pleaded guilty in February to felony stalking as part of an agreement with prosecutors that included the dismissal of one count of second-degree attempted murder.
Patton also must attend domestic-violence classes as part of his probation.
Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin initially had said he planned to charge Patton with attempted first-degree murder, stemming from a car chase he had with his ex-girlfriend. But nearly three weeks after the arrest, on Jan. 6, Mordkin reduced the charge to second-degree attempted murder.
The charge came after police say Patton threw a wrench at his ex’s vehicle. And at one point, when a male passenger got out of the woman’s car, Patton tried to run him over, law enforcement alleged.
Mordkin had contended that the attempted-murder charge was supported by the male accuser’s claim that Patton’s Jeep Cherokee grazed him. The alleged incident started on Highway 82 near the airport before culminating on Red Mountain Road near Willoughby Road.
• A transient pleaded guilty to felony criminal trespassing and was given a one-year deferred judgment by Nichols.
Edward Joseph Duggan III, 45, said he plans to return to his home state of Delaware, where he will receive help for his substance-abuse problems.
Aspen police arrested Duggan on Feb. 23 after a man said Duggan was inside his apartment watching porn on his computer.
Duggan’s public defender, Tina Fang, said he had been drinking a lot that night.
“He was highly intoxicated,” Fang said. “I think he doesn’t remember what happened that night.”
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