Court roundup: Judge won’t suppress ID in Aspen rape case
ASPEN – A judge declined Monday to suppress an alleged rape victim’s identification of her perpetrator, but called the method Aspen police used “unnecessarily suggestive.”
District Judge James Boyd’s ruling was the latest on a series of motions filed by public defenders Tina Fang and Stephen McCrohan, who are representing Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun, 22, of Carbondale.
Authorities have accused Gonzalez-Loujun of sexually assaulting an Aspen woman in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 2009, outside of the Centennial Apartments complex in Aspen.
Defense lawyers had argued to suppress the alleged victim’s identification of Gonzalez-Loujun because he was not given due process.
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They claimed that when the woman identified him as the rapist, the procedure was “suggestive” because he was in front of a police vehicle and there was no suspect lineup.
Gonzalez-Loujun was in custody at the time of the identification, after he allegedly assaulted a police officer and was found with cocaine. Police had encountered him walking away from the apartment complex when they were responding to a report that a rape had occurred.
In his ruling, Body noted that the identification procedure “was unnecessarily suggestive … but the court is denying the motion to suppress.”
Boyd said that “identification remains an issue in the case,” adding that four witnesses will have to identify the suspect before the case goes to trial. He said he would not issue a specific order on how to identify the suspect.
In other matters, Boyd denied a motion by the public defenders to hold three separate trials against Gonzalez-Loujun. Fang and McCrohan had argued that Gonzalez-Loujun should be tried separately for the charges related to sexual assault, police assault and drug distribution.
Originally scheduled for this month, the trial has been tentatively reset to March 29 through April 6. The trial was postponed because of the district attorney’s office and Aspen Police Department’s failure to provide evidence – ranging from video footage of the arrest to blood samples – to defense attorneys in a timely manner.
Boyd still has to determine whether to appoint a special prosecutor, per the request of Fang and McCrohan, who have argued that prosecutor Arnold Mordkin has demonstrated “outrageous” conduct during the proceedings.
Since his arrest, Gonzalez-Loujun has been in the Pitkin County jail on a $250,000 bond. If convicted, he faces a lifetime in the Department of Corrections.
In other court developments Monday:
• A plea deal is in the works for California resident Christian Adam Gaxiola, 30, who is accused of being involved in a counterfeiting ring that orchestrated the passing of phony $100 bills around Aspen.
Gaxiola’s attorney, Chip McCrohan, told Boyd that “we’re working feverishly to finish up the terms of a plea bargain.”
Boyd set the matter over for March 1.
• Tyler Skelton, 24, of Carbondale was charged with the felony count of possession of a schedule II substance (cocaine) and criminal mischief. Skelton, who did not appear with an attorney, was arrested Jan. 16 after police were called to a report of an incident on a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus.
• Prosecutors filed three drug-related charges against Derrick Carrera, 22, of Glenwood Springs. Carrera faces one felony charge of possession of less than one gram of ecstasy, along with charges of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of less than 1 ounce of marijuana. Aspen police arrested him Jan. 27. His next court appearance is scheduled March 1.
• Seth Baxter, 20, of Aspen, is in the process of paying restitution after allegedly committing credit card fraud at Bad Billy’s by buying drinks for himself and friends in December.
Baxter’s attorney, McCrohan, told the court a plea deal is in the works, and Baxter is ready to pay back the $130 he allegedly rang up. Baxter is charged with two class-four felonies of identity theft and two counts of unauthorized use of a financial device.
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