Colver drug trial will begin today |

Colver drug trial will begin today

John Colson

Thomas Colver, one of a dozen local teen-agers implicated in a string of robberies and burglaries last year, goes on trial today on drug charges unrelated to the spree.

A jury will be asked to convict Colver, 19, on charges stemming from the cops’ alleged discovery of marijuana and a bag of illegal psilocybin mushrooms in his possession during a routine traffic stop last year.

The two felony drug charges, possession of illegal mushrooms and possession of mushrooms with intent to distribute, could net Colver 12 years each in the state prison system.

Colver also faces trial in September on charges that he and another teen, Anthony Rizzuto, 20, staged an armed robbery at the Aspen Alps condominium complex late last summer. The robbery was allegedly part of a two-month string of burglaries and robberies in Aspen and Snowmass Village.

Although the two cases are not directly linked, there are aspects of both that point to possible connections.

According to police, Colver was a passenger in a car stopped by police after a citizen reported the vehicle speeding down Independence Pass after midnight on Aug. 14, 1999. Colver was searched by police, who believed some occupants of the car had been involved in a series of local crimes.

Police officers testified at a hearing last December that Colver and the others in the car – including the driver, Rizzuto – were considered suspects in a string of local armed robberies. APD Officer Brian Heeney, responding by radio, suggested that the police at the scene search for guns.

According to Aspen police officer Bill Linn, he discovered a baggy of marijuana hidden in one of Colver’s socks during the search. While later searching the car, Linn testified, he found a large quantity of psilocybin mushrooms in a bag under the passenger’s seat.

Rizzuto, 20, is Colver’s co-defendant in the Alps robbery. The two men were charged after defendants in other incidents in last year’s crime spree told police that they had pulled the Alps job.

According to police, two men walked into the Alps office late on the night of Aug. 6, 1999, and demanded cash from the safe and a cash drawer. The clerk on duty at the time said she felt the robbers knew where the money was to be found, and Colver reportedly had worked at the Alps around the time of the robbery.

Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills said that Colver, if found guilty, faces a minimum prison term of 10 years on the armed robbery charge, which must be served consecutively with any sentence he might receive in the drug case.

Of the 12 defendants in the string of burglaries and robberies, only Colver, Rizzuto and Stefan Schutter, 18, still face prosecution.

Rizzuto also is accused of taking part in the burglary of a Twining Flats home, along with several of the other defendants in the crime spree cases.

Schutter is believed to have been involved in armed robberies at Clark’s Market in Aspen and the Village Market in Snowmass Village with two different sets of teens from the same overall group of 12.

Attorneys in Schutter’s case were in Aspen this week, going over evidence in the case and at one point negotiating on a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office, according to a source at the Pitkin County Courthouse. The negotiations fell through, however, and Schutter’s first trial is set for late August.

Five of those involved in the crimes received lengthy prison sentences, while four were given terms of probation in lieu of prison.

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