Cop assaulter competent, faces big decision | AspenTimes.com

Cop assaulter competent, faces big decision

A local man who’s made a habit out of assaulting Aspen police officers over the years withdrew his request for a third competency evaluation Wednesday and now faces a significant decision.

Landin Smith, 51, already had been found competent to stand trial in two previous competency evaluations by state psychiatrists. In addition, District Judge Chris Seldin determined Smith was competent earlier this month based on a confidential discussion he had with him this spring.

Garth McCarty, Smith’s attorney, told the judge Wednesday that while he has concerns about Smith’s competency, nothing would be accomplished by holding a competency hearing.

Seldin’s competency finding now becomes final with the lack of a challenge from Smith and his lawyer.

Now Smith must decide by July 15 whether to withdraw from a plea agreement he accepted in February and stand trial for assaulting one officer in February 2015 and another in December 2015. If he moves forward with the plea agreement — he pleaded guilty in February to two felony counts of assault on a police officer — he will face between four and 10 years in prison.

Smith fired his previous lawyer after accepting the plea deal because he misunderstood the sentencing options, said prosecutor Andrea Bryan, who also voiced frustration at the number of delays in the case. Still, Seldin said that lack of understanding constitutes a “substantial reason” for the delay.

“The court can’t fault Mr. Smith for that,” Seldin said.

Smith has already spent three years in prison for kicking a police officer in 2009 at Koch Lumber Park. A month after he was released from that stint, he kicked an officer again and was later sentenced to six months in jail.

Then in February 2015, Aspen police Sgt. Dan Davis said he was taking Smith to a detox facility after finding him drunk in the East Hyman Avenue pedestrian mall, according to court records. At the time, Davis hadn’t put Smith in handcuffs and allowed him to ride in the front of his patrol car because Smith was calm, records say.

However, Smith reportedly became verbally abusive on the way to the detox unit and challenged the officer to a fight. When Davis made a U-turn to take Smith to jail, Smith tried to jump out of the car, forcing Davis to grab Smith with his right hand while attempting to steer the car with his left, according to records.

Davis said he was able to avoid traffic and stop the car, but that Smith punched him in the face and fought with him until other law enforcement personnel arrived on the scene and arrested him, records say.

While in jail awaiting trial in that case for more than a year, Smith managed to post bond in December. Hours later, however, officers arrested him again on suspicion of being drunk at the Aspen Homeless Shelter at St. Mary Catholic Church, which would violate his terms of release. In that alleged incident, according to records, after officers finally managed to get him to the jail despite numerous obscenities, threats and uncooperative behavior, Smith allegedly kicked Aspen Officer Terry Leitch in the leg.

jauslander@aspentimes.com


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