Carbondale woman jailed for vehicular assault
ASPEN – A Carbondale woman was ordered Monday to serve concurrent county jail terms of 90 days and 120 days for vehicular assault and driving under the influence.
Despite Stephanie Chapman and her Aspen attorney Mark Rubinstein’s pleas to Judge Gail Nichols for a more lenient sentence in Pitkin County District Court, the judge said the 28-year-old woman needed to feel the effects of a jail sentence. Chapman was ordered to go to jail immediately after the hearing.
Chapman’s sentencing came after she crashed a vehicle into a ditch off Prince Creek Road, located near Dinkle Lake outside of Carbondale, in June. Nearly a month earlier, Chapman had been given a deferred sentence in Pitkin County Court for a domestic violence case, which included a provision that she not drink alcohol.
Meanwhile, two passengers who were riding with her at the time required medical attention, including one who told the judge that both of his eye-sockets were broken. The victim also said he experiences daily headaches, has lost partial sight in his left eye, has a partial hearing loss, and his senses of taste and smell continue to decline.
“There should be at least some jail time,” he said.
Another victim said his right arm required surgery as a result of the crash.
Chapman’s blood-alcohol level was .135 at the time of the accident, according to courtroom testimony. As part of a plea agreement with Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin, Chapman pleaded guilty to one felony charge of vehicular assault and one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence of alcohol.
Nichols sentenced her to four years of supervised probation and 90 days in Pitkin County Jail for the vehicular assault charge; she was sentenced to 120 days and fined $900 for the DUI charge.
Chapman said she has cleaned up her life since the incident by regularly attending 12-step meetings. Rubinstein displayed a six-month sobriety chip to Nichols in an effort to demonstrate Chapman’s commitment to avoiding alcohol.
Admitting that she knowingly got behind the wheel while she was intoxicated, Chapman said the wreck served as a “wake-up” call that she has a drinking problem, and will help her become a better mother to her daughter. She also expressed remorse and apologized to the victims, who were her friends until the accident.
Nichols said she was encouraged by Chapman’s turnaround, but noted that the victims – particularly the one who experiences headaches and erosion of several of his senses – will experience a “life of pain.”
“You were actually lucky that nobody died,” the judge said. “You and your daughter might have a better life, but [one of the victims] isn’t going to have a better life, and that’s the problem.”
In other court developments Monday:
• Keith Ames, 42, of Aspen was sentenced to one year of probation for felony possession of less than 1 gram of cocaine. A Pitkin County jury convicted Ames in December following a two-day trial.
Ames, however, remains an inmate at Pitkin County Jail because of other charges pending against him. They include two bond violations – including one for which the bond has been revoked – and a felony burglary charge.
• A preliminary hearing for Charles White, 28, a transient cage fighter who faces assault and domestic violence charges, has been set for Feb. 14. White was arrested in September at the St. Moritz Lodge following an alleged domestic violence incident involving a female companion and two of his children.
With the children looking on, police had to subdue him with shots from a Taser gun.
The judge also modified a restraining order that will allow the woman and children to visit him while he’s in custody. The woman, via telephone, told the judge “we do love him very much …”
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