Checkered past for Aspen car-chase couple
A Denver man arrested at gunpoint Wednesday evening near Aspen High School has two other felony cases pending and was ordered held on a $20,000 cash-only bond Thursday.
An Arvada woman who was in the same vehicle when it led police on a high-speed chase and may have been driving also has a lengthy criminal history and was ordered held on a $10,000 cash or surety bond Thursday morning.
The couple, Marcus Trujillo, 31, and Querida Castellano, 30, are each facing similar charges because law enforcement authorities are not sure who was driving the Nissan Pathfinder that eventually crashed on several rocks near the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club parking lot, according to law enforcement authorities and court documents.
The vehicle’s windows were blacked out, said Alex Burchetta, director of operations for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
The Pathfinder first came to the attention of law enforcement at about 5:30 p.m., when it passed a sheriff’s deputy going 95 miles per hour eastbound on Highway 82 near Twining Flats Road, according to an arrest affidavit filed in district court. Another deputy clocked the SUV going 85 mph when it passed him near the intersection of Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road.
That deputy gave chase and saw the Pathfinder driving “extremely recklessly” and weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed, the affidavit states. Near the airport, the deputy saw the Pathfinder pass two vehicles on the right-hand shoulder of the road, “coming within inches of striking the vehicle in the right-hand lane,” according to the affidavit.
The Pathfinder’s driver almost hit two or three other vehicles while going about 90 mph before heading up Maroon Creek Road. The vehicle then turned left into the Aspen schools campus heading the wrong way down a one-way street and took out a “pedestrian sign” as it raced around the parking lot, the affidavit states.
There were no students near the school parking lot at the time of the incident, Burchetta said.
The Pathfinder then exited the parking lot and headed down Bus Barn Lane, a dead-end street. At the dead end, the driver drove through the yard of an Aspen police community resource officer, uprooting two trees, then headed into a rocky open space area that leads to the Aspen School District’s softball fields, according to the affidavit.
The pursuing deputy, Ryan Turner, momentarily lost sight of the vehicle in the rocky terrain and followed the tracks across the Upper Moore softball field until he found the Pathfinder “crashed and resting on several rocks” just east of Aspen High School near the ski club parking lot.
“As I drove towards the Nissan, I saw a male wearing a black jacket running full speed away from the vehicle out of my sight,” Turner wrote in Trujillo’s affidavit.
Castellano, meanwhile, kept repeatedly yelling at Turner, “I wasn’t driving,” and Turner ordered her to sit down and wait for him to return.
Turner got back into his car and began pursuing Trujillo. He met up with Burchetta near the Moore Drive entrance to Aspen High School, and both men ran south toward Glen Eagles Drive, where they confronted Trujillo, the affidavit states.
Deputy Erin Smiddy arrived at the scene and saw Turner, with his handgun drawn, yelling at Trujillo to show him his hands, according to an arrest affidavit Smiddy wrote for Castellano. Smiddy also had her gun drawn and saw Burchetta run up with a rifle aimed at Trujillo.
Trujillo showed the deputies his right hand with his cellphone in it, but “was reaching into the back of his pants under his coat” with his left hand, according to Smiddy’s affidavit. Burchetta said later that nothing was found under Trujillo’s coat.
“The man finally said ‘my back hurts’ and laid on the ground on his back,” Smiddy wrote. “Finally, the man rolled over on his front side with his arms tucked underneath him.”
Two other deputies then handcuffed him, according to Smiddy’s affidavit. Trujillo smelled of alcohol and failed sobriety tests, according to Turner’s affidavit. His blood was later drawn for testing, Burchetta said.
Trujillo is currently out on bond on a felony burglary and trespassing case from Denver and a felony assault with a deadly weapon case from Jefferson County, Deputy District Attorney Anne Norrdin told District Court Judge Gail Nichols on Thursday. In addition, he went to prison for three years in the early 2000s after pleading guilty to attempted burglary and assault. Out of that case, he also was convicted of misdemeanor sexual assault, she said.
He’s also faced charges of possession of a controlled substance, reckless endangerment and obstructing a police officer, she said.
Trujillo pleaded with Nichols to set a lower bond than $20,000 cash-only so he could work and take care of his house, his dog and his five cats. Nichols declined.
“The danger to this community was very, very substantial,” Nichols said. “A significant bond is appropriate to protect the safety of the community.”
Trujillo, who court documents say is married, told Nichols he and Castellano weren’t romantically involved.
“I’m not romantic with that person,” he said. “I just wanted to take a ride to the mountains.”
He is facing charges of felony criminal mischief, felony vehicular eluding and misdemeanor counts of violating a protection order, DUI, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and driving with a revoked license.
Castellano, who appeared separately in front of Nichols after Trujillo, cried throughout her advisement Thursday and said she needed to be out of jail so she can check into a drug treatment center. She also said social services has taken away her three children — ages 1, 2 and 3 — and her father is mad at her for being arrested again. Court documents say she is single.
She again denied driving and said she shouldn’t have been with Trujillo, that she has “two other cases with him” and that he made her get into the car and wouldn’t drop her off at a friend’s house.
“This guy is garbage,” Castellano said. “He’s just a bad dude.”
Castellano’s criminal history includes two instances of being charged with felony vehicular eluding, theft, violating an order to protection, false reporting and possession of a controlled substance, Norrdin said. She was placed on five years probation in January for one of the eluding charges, she said.
Castellano told deputies “she had met with Trujillo (Wednesday) around noon when she was kicked out of her hotel room in Denver,” according to Smiddy’s affidavit. “She said she and Trujillo just started driving west on Colorado Interstate 70 and that she didn’t not know exactly where Trujillo was wanting to go.”
She is facing charges of felony criminal mischief, felony vehicular eluding and misdemeanor counts of violating a protection order, DUI, reckless driving, reckless endangerment and speeding.
Nichols said didn’t think Trujillo was credible and had “real doubts” about all the charges filed against Castellano except the count of violating a protection order.
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