Carbondale man gets 12 years for Glenwood, Aspen robberies
September 11, 2009
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A Carbondale man on Thursday received two concurrent 12-year prison sentences for two separate robberies, in Glenwood Springs and Aspen.
Ninth Judicial District Senior Court Judge Tom Ossola sentenced Justin Nathaniel Brink, 26, to the prison term after Brink pleaded guilty to two felony robbery counts and admitted a probation violation in July. Brink also received a two-year prison sentence, to run concurrent with the others, for violating probation.
Brink apologized to the victims, the court, the community and the people of Colorado for his action. He told the judge that he recognizes that he has a substance abuse problem and asked for help. He also vowed to “change who he is from this day forward,” if given the chance.
“I am ready to accept the sentence, so I can move on, and move forward,” he said.
One of the robberies occurred on March 6 at BB’s Wings ‘n’ Q, located on Sixth Street near the 116 Interstate 70 exit in Glenwood Springs. Brink entered the restaurant and passed a note to one of the owners, Janet Balcomb, that stated he had a gun and instructed her to hand over all the money in the register.
Balcomb turned between $500 and $600 over to Brink.
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While Janet Balcomb didn’t appear in court, her husband, Bo Balcomb, did. He told the judge his wife has not been the same since the robbery, and that it was a frightening experience, knowing that his infant son was in the restaurant during the hold-up.
“There is a lot that we will never get back,” Bo Balcomb said. “I’ve never gotten the money back, but there is more to life than 600 bucks. He took a lot more from us than that.”
In a letter addressed to the court, read aloud by prosecutor Matt Barrett, Janet Balcomb said she was made to “fear for her life, and the life of her infant son.” She also said she feared for the lives of her husband, who was working in the kitchen of the restaurant, and his parents, who were also in the building.
Janet Balcomb also said, via the letter, that it would be “better for her mental state” that she not attend Brink’s sentencing hearing, because she still fears him.
However, in a part of the letter addressed to Brink, she said that she felt sorry for him, Barrett told the court.
The other robbery to which Brink pleaded guilty occurred in February, when he held a knife to an Aspen taxi driver’s throat and demanded money.
The taxi driver, Jeff Evans of Basalt, said he drives a taxi for four months during the winter. Since the incident, he has lost a sense of security and now has an “uncomfortable feeling” whenever a male approaches his taxi, he told the court.
“That is not a particularly good feeling,” Evans said.
The district attorney asked for the maximum sentence of 18 years in prison because he said, if given the chance, Brink would commit more crimes.
“Twelve years is not enough,” the DA told the judge. “Sentencing has three purposes: deterrence, rehabilitation and punishment. … He’s had a taste of all three, but he is about to get a large dose of the last one – punishment.”
Public defender Stephen McCrohan argued for the minimum of 10 years, saying, “Eighteen years in prison is a very long time for a person who is only 26 years old.
“Justin Brink is a good person who did some very bad things,” McCrohan said. “I truly believe that he never intended to hurt anyone, but he did scare some people. That is no excuse, but 10 years is a very long time in prison.”
Brink’s mother, Diane Brink-Barto, also asked for leniency for her son.
“He is not a bad person,” she said. “He is a good son, and a great father.”
She said that she was also concerned with what would happen to her son in prison.
But that did not affect the decision of Ossola, who said that in 23 years as a judge in the 9th Judicial District, he could count on one hand the number of similar robbery cases he’s had to sentence.
Brink could be eligible for parole in 2018, and will also have to serve five years of parole after his release.