Charges dropped against Laybourns

Scott Condon

Charges have been dismissed against a Missouri Heights couple who were arrested in unusual circumstances during an undercover drug sting that targeted their son last year.

Charges of possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana, possession of psilocybin mushrooms and possession of drug paraphernalia were dropped against Royal and Lezlie Laybourn on March 23, according to an Eagle County court clerk. The motion to dismiss the charges was filed by the district attorney’s office and approved by Eagle County Judge Fred Gannett.

The district attorney’s office didn’t return messages seeking comment on why the charges were dropped.

The couple was snared during an investigation of their son by the Two Rivers Drug Enforcement Task Force, also known as TRIDENT. The task force was a cooperative venture between the towns of Glenwood Springs, Carbondale, Rangely and Rifle as well as Garfield and Rio Blanco counties. Glenwood recently pulled its officers from TRIDENT due to budgetary constraints.

In the Laybourn case, a TRIDENT informant allegedly arranged to purchase drugs from Hayden Laybourn in Carbondale one evening last August, but ended up making the deal at Hayden’s residence in the Eagle County portion of Missouri Heights.

TRIDENT officers obtained a search warrant and said they found 2.6 grams of pot and less than a half ounce of cocaine in Hayden’s living quarters, which are separate from his parents’ home but under the same roof. Officers expanded their search into the Laybourns’ home and allegedly found small amounts of marijuana and mushrooms in the parents’ bedroom in dresser drawers.

None of the Laybourns were home at the time of the search. They were arrested the next day.

Hayden Laybourn faced five charges: Possession and distribution of cocaine; possession and distribution of marijuana; and possession of drug paraphernalia. He and the Eagle County District Attorney’s office reached a plea bargain earlier this month that reduced the charge to one count of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. That substance was Diazepam, also known as Valium.

Eagle County District Judge Richard Hart sentenced Hayden Laybourn to 90 days in jail and four years of probation, according to a court clerk. He was given credit for 30 days served in jail. In addition, the judge will reconsider the sentence April 19, the court clerk said.

Charges were also filed against Hayden Laybourn in Garfield County and were resolved through a similar plea bargain.

The charges against the parents were dismissed immediately after Hayden Laybourn was sentenced in Eagle County on March 17.

Royal Laybourn couldn’t be reached for comment. His attorney, Walt Brown, said “the case came out like it should of.” He said he didn’t believe authorities wanted to pursue the case against the parents for possession of “recreational” amounts of drugs.

“I just don’t think they wanted to beat down the whole family,” Brown said.

He said he researched whether the parents could have challenged their arrests on grounds that it was an illegal search and seizure, but he didn’t think that case could be successfully argued. The search warrant that was signed by a judge covered the entire house, not just the part where Hayden lived.

Brown said there is a chance the arrests could have been challenged on jurisdictional grounds. The search was made by TRIDENT in a home in Eagle County even though the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office isn’t part of TRIDENT.

TRIDENT got involved in the case because, according to arrest affidavits, Hayden Laybourn often arranged exchanges at the Cowen Center in Carbondale.

When Laybourn couldn’t make it to Carbondale, he allegedly arranged for the informant to come to his home to complete the sale. TRIDENT officers got a search warrant for the Laybourns’ home in Eagle County and executed it with the help of the Eagle County Crime Response Team.

Scott Condon’s e-mail address is


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