Colver’s mistrial motion overruled |

Colver’s mistrial motion overruled

John Colson

A defense attorney attempted Wednesday to derail the drug trial of Thomas Colver, arguing that he was not given information he was entitled to by the district attorney’s office.

Defense attorney Walt Brown argued that it was a “surprise” to him to learn that a Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff had heard Colver admit that a bag of illegal mushrooms belonged to him, after a police officer allegedly found the bag in a car Colver had been riding in.

But District Judge J.E. DeVilbiss countered that the attorney, Walt Brown, had the information in question, even if Brown was correct in saying he did not get it from that particular deputy. DeVilbiss turned down Brown’s motion for a mistrial.

Colver, 19, is being tried on charges of possession of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms, as well as possession of the mushrooms with the intent to distribute them. The two mushroom allegations are felonies, and each one could net Colver 12 years in state prison.

Police allegedly found a half-ounce of pot in his right sock in a “pat down search” during a routine traffic stop in Aspen last August, and then searched the car and turned up a large quantity of mushrooms.

Police stopped the car after it was reported by a citizen to be speeding down Highway 82 from Independence Pass after midnight on Aug. 14, 1999.

Deputy Liz Johnson, who initially pulled the car over, was in the process of writing a ticket for careless driving against the driver, Anthony Rizzuto, when other officers decided to search the three occupants of the car.

According to testimony in pretrial hearings, authorities suspected Colver and Rizzuto of being involved in a series of burglaries and armed robberies in the Aspen and Snowmass Village area. The cops acting as “backup” for Johnson had apparently been advised to search the car for guns. No guns were found.

Officer Bill Linn testified that after they discovered the pot and mushrooms there were “angry words” between Rizzuto and Colver, after which Colver allegedly said of the bag of mushrooms, “It’s mine.”

Deputy Johnson testified to hearing Colver utter those words, in what she said was a “reluctant” tone. It was at that point that Brown called for a mistrial and the judge overrode his motion.

Linn said Colver told him Rizzuto knew nothing about the drugs, and that they were intended to be handed out to “whoever wanted to hallucinate” at a party Colver planned to attend.

Colver reportedly told Linn that the mushrooms were not for “distribution,” meaning for sale, and that they were meant for consumption by him and a few friends. But prosecutor Lawson Wills told the jury that under Colorado law, “distribution means to deliver … with or without remuneration.”

The trial resumes today at 9 a.m. in the Pitkin County Courthouse.

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