Basalt man faces up to life in prison over attack of woman at Aspen restaurant
A Basalt man convicted of attempting to sexually assault a woman in the bathroom of downtown Aspen restaurant could spend the rest of his life behind bars under the state’s sex offender sentencing act.
Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin on Tuesday issued a minimum sentence of four years in the Department of Corrections to Robert Marlow, whose public defender tried to keep him out of prison by arguing that he was more deserving of probation.
Seldin issued his sentence under provisions of the Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act, or SOLSA, which requires lifetime supervision for most class 2, 3 and 4 felony sex convictions.
In April, a Pitkin County jury found Marlow guilty of attempted sexual assault, a class 4 felony, and concluded he used “force of violence” when he tried to sexually assault a then 23-year-old woman at Aspen Public House at approximately 1 a.m., July 7, 2021. He also was convicted of misdemeanor counts of false imprisonment and indecent exposure.
Marlow, 41 and a former bouncer, has maintained his innocence, and his public defender Scott Troxell suggested they will appeal the sentence.
Under the act, Seldin could either sentence Marlow to a probationary period with a minimum 10 years to a maximum of life, or a prison sentence with a range with a minimum two years and maximum of life.
Seldin said he couldn’t find Marlow eligible for a probation, and he also wasn’t persuaded by Troxell’s argument that the SULSA is unconstitutional. Troxell filed motions making the same argument. Those motions are sealed, a court clerk said.
“The application of SULSA to the crime at issue here is appropriate,” Seldin said.
Even so, Troxell said the punishment did not fit the crime Marlow has said he does not remember committing. Troxell also said Marlow, by saying he doesn’t remember the incident, hurts his chances for being released on parole.
“I understand and respect the jury’s decision on the charges, but we’re talking about conduct — even in the light most favorable to the prosecution, if you will — that to me, shocks the conscience that we’re talking about sending Mr. Marlow to prison for possibly the rest of his life,” Troxell argued. “If the prosecution does not believe that is a possibility under the Lifetime Supervision Act, I’d like them to put that on the record because while some people are getting out of prison, many are not. … and now the Department of Corrections will decide if Mr. Marlow is ever able to leave prison, should that be the sentence of the court.”
Marlow appeared in person at the hearing held in Pitkin County District Court, which re-opened this week after being closed since March for a major renovation project. He declined to speak when offered the chance by Seldin. The victim tuned into the hearing virtually and also declined to speak.
Marlow testified at trial that he’d been consuming alcohol and cocaine that night and did not remember what happened in the bathroom other than the woman screaming. He said, however, that he remembered most other details of the evening, including arriving at the Aspen Public House and sitting at a table outside of the men and women’s restrooms.
The jury could not consider Marlow’s intoxication when deliberating its verdict, Troxell said.
“It’s somewhat indisputed that Mr Marlow was simply was out-of-his-mind intoxicated,” he said. “He indicated that to law enforcement the moment he was contacted by them. Every witness indicated that he was inebriated, highly-intoxicated, out of his mind.”
The victim, who was 23 at the time of the attack, was visiting Aspen and went out the night of July 6, 2021, with family friend. Around 1 a.m. July 7, she went to the women’s bathroom at the Public House where she saw Marlow standing with his pants unbuttoned, the victim testified.
She then diverted to the men’s bathroom, where soon after Marlow, who was visibly drunk, came barging in and backed her to a wall, blocked her from leaving and began pulling down his pants and boxers, the victim testified.
“I hope in your own mind you’ve absorbed trauma that this incident caused the victim,” said Seldin, who also noted the former bouncer’s large size. “You heard her screaming on the video tape. Anybody presented with these circumstances would recoil. That is totally unacceptable behavior, horrible, scary behavior.”
The woman said that, after Marlow told her, “You’re not going anywhere,” she screamed and punched and kicked him and was able to escape the bathroom. She also testified she believed she would have been raped if she had not gotten away.
“This is scary, scary behavior,” Seldin continued. “Mr. Marlow is understandably not admitting he committed the act. He went to trial and maintained his innocence, and he will continue to maintain his innocence, so he can pursue his appellate rights. But objectively, this is scary, scary behavior.”
At the sentencing hearing, prosecutor Don Nottingham played Troxell’s words against Marlow.
“In this case, does it shock the conscience that a person who attacks a stranger in a restaurant bathroom, attempts to sexually assault her in a semi-public though somewhat safe place within a semi-public area? Does it shock the conscience that person will be subject to lifetime supervision?”
Nottingham, who asked for a minimum of four years in prison for Marlow, added: “It’s just a scary act. It’s not a situation where a person got mixed signals or knew the person and grossly understood what was being said to him. This was an attack on a young woman in a restroom at a restaurant. I certainly don’t pretend to speak for anyone else, but I think it’s fair to say that has got to be some people’s worst nightmare — to be attacked in a sexual way when all you’re doing is going out on a social occasion with a friend.”
Marlow has three convictions for driving under the influence and also two non-violent felony convictions in Texas. Seldin also determined Marlow to not be a violent sex offender and urged him to address his history of substance use. Marlow will receive credit for the 453 days of incarceration in Pitkin County Jail since his arrest.
Pitkin County sheriff-elect Michael Buglione on Wednesday credited his election victory to grassroots campaigning, hard work, and handshakes.