Couple arrested in Aspen car chase had been smoking crack, meth
The couple who led sheriff’s deputies on a high-speed car chase that ended near Aspen High School last week were driving a stolen SUV and had been smoking crack and methamphetamine, according to court documents.
In addition, an inventory of the 2002 Nissan Pathfinder turned up two pieces of plastic containing a white, powdery substance, a crack pipe, a “makeshift apparent meth pipe,” a peppermint schnapps bottle converted into an “apparent crack/meth pipe,” needles, a butane torch, an empty plastic bag for syringes and another small peppermint schnapps bottle, according to a search warrant filed in District Court.
The couple — Marcus Trujillo, 31, and Querida Castellano, 30 — have each accused the other of driving the Pathfinder, and neither witnesses nor law enforcement officers could tell who was behind the wheel, according to the warrant. A spokesman for the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office has said the vehicle had blacked-out windows.
The Pathfinder first came to the attention of a sheriff’s deputy when it passed him going 95 mph eastbound on Highway 82 near Twining Flats Road at about 5:30 p.m. Oct. 21. The deputy chased the SUV and saw it weaving in and out of traffic, passing vehicles on the right shoulder of the road and nearly hitting other vehicles, all while maintaining speeds of 85 to 90 mph.
At the roundabout west of Aspen, the Pathfinder headed up Maroon Creek Road, then turned into the Aspen Public Schools complex, headed the wrong way down a one-way street, raced down a nearby dead-end street, cut across a yard and into a rocky open space area near the schools’ softball fields before crashing on several rocks just east of Aspen High School.
Castellano remained at the vehicle, repeatedly yelling at deputies that she was not the driver. Trujillo, meanwhile, fled on foot and was arrested at gunpoint not far away.
Castellano later told a deputy that one of the pipes found in the Pathfinder’s front seats belongs to Trujillo, according to the search warrant filed Thursday in District Court.
“Castellano claimed Trujillo uses the pipe to smoke methamphetamine,” the warrant states. “Castellano admitted to smoking crack cocaine and having a crack pipe in her suitcase inside the Nissan.”
“Castellano remained adamant that Trujillo was the driver,” according to documents.
An investigator for the Sheriff’s Office tried to interview Trujillo on Oct. 22, though he hadn’t decided at that time whether to talk, the warrant states.
The investigator also took swabs of the Pathfinder’s steering wheel, gear selector, key, door handles and other controls, presumably to gather fingerprint evidence that might determine the driver.
At the time of the car chase, Trujillo was out on bond for a felony burglary and trespassing case from Denver and a felony assault with a deadly weapon case from Jefferson County. He also spent three years in prison in the early 2000s for attempted burglary and assault, a prosecutor has said.
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. Other charges are likely to be added to that list based on what was found in the Pathfinder.
District Judge Gail Nichols made it clear when the couple appeared in court last week that she thought Trujillo was the driver, and that his claims otherwise were not credible.
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. She was placed on five years probation in January for one of the eluding charges.
She also told Nichols that social services has taken away her three young children.
Castellano 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. Charges against her also will probably be amended in the near future.
Castellano and Trujillo are scheduled to appear in court again Monday.
Back in 2013, while working on a proposed box set of archival recordings, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge came across a group of songs that had been recorded in the late 1980s but never released.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.