Convicted car thief gets probation

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

A man will spend the next three years on probation after pleading guilty to stealing cars in December and January.

Marvin Luna-Lovo, 26, also must stay away from drugs and alcohol, participate in drug-and-alcohol treatment programs, complete an anger-management class and undergo random drug and alcohol testing while on probation, District Judge Chris Seldin said.

“It will be a challenge when you get out of jail not to drink,” Seldin said. “You’re going to have to stay away from booze.”

Luna-Lovo pleaded guilty in May to two felony counts of aggravated theft of a motor vehicle.

He stole the first car Dec. 2 from in front of Zane’s Tavern in downtown Aspen and was later caught on surveillance video parking it near the Jewish Community Center on Main Street. Luna-Lovo then stole a Jeep Cherokee on Jan. 26 from the Brush Creek intercept lot while the owners were trying to start another vehicle.

Before that, the El Salvador native was arrested twice for drunken driving within a three-hour period. After the first arrest at about 10 p.m. Oct. 30, when Luna-Lovo admitted to drinking a shot and smoking marijuana, he was released from jail to a sober friend. However, 30 minutes after the release, police pulled him over again for driving erratically and arrested him for DUI for the second time.

Urinalysis results from those two arrests showed the presence of cocaine and methamphetamine, prosecutor Andrea Bryan has said. He has not yet been sentenced in the DUI cases, which are misdemeanors being handled in Pitkin County Court.

On Monday, Bryan asked Seldin to sentence Luna-Lovo to two years in prison for auto thefts, saying that he’s a danger to the community.

Public defender Molly Owens, Luna-Lovo’s attorney, said such a sentence was “beyond me,” because this was his first felony sentence and it wasn’t violent. She said her client likely was the victim of trauma he suffered growing up in “a civil war-type environment in El Salvador” marked by violence and poverty.

While Bryan said in May that she would be surprised if Luna-Lovo wasn’t deported following the felony pleas, she said it was unclear Monday if such action would occur.

In other court sentencing news Monday:

• A 39-year-old with a history of drug abuse apologized to the community of Aspen before he was sentenced to two years of probation for felony drug possession.

“Over the last year, many of my decisions have been horrible,” Kent Muer said. “I’ve been mired in the horrible choices I’ve made in the last year. My actions have caused harm to others.”

Muer was arrested Christmas morning after hitting his wife in the mouth during a fight that started over heroin, according to court documents. The wife told police they’d known each other two days before getting married in Las Vegas in October, and that the couple had been partying and doing drugs together after moving to Aspen.

The woman said Muer was a “serious drug user” of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and other drugs, according to the documents. She said he spent $100 a day on heroin.

Bryan on Monday also said Muer grapples with substance-abuse issues.

“Saying that the defendant has a drug problem is a gross understatement,” she said. “Heroin use is generally accepted to be very dangerous.”

In addition to the December incident, Muer also was staying in a local hotel room in May where a maid was later pricked by a hypodermic needle while cleaning the bathroom, according to Bryan and court documents. He was not charged in connection with that incident, though another man is facing drug and child-abuse charges as a result because the needle was later found to contain cocaine and the man’s 7-year-old son had been present in the hotel room.

Seldin sentenced Muer on Monday to two years’ probation, during which time he must participate in the Garfield County Recovery Court program, which is designed to treat defendants with substance-abuse problems. Muer must complete that program, be monitored for sobriety and receive drug treatment, Seldin said.


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