Judge: ‘Grave consequences’ for felony conviction | AspenTimes.com

Judge: ‘Grave consequences’ for felony conviction

A 23-year-old former Aspen resident was led from the courtroom in handcuffs Monday after he was sentenced to 90 days in jail for attacking and injuring his girlfriend in April.

Kelby Strohm pleaded guilty to felony second-degree kidnapping in the case and will spend the next four years on supervised probation, according to the sentence from Pitkin County District Judge Chris Seldin.

He also must perform 96 hours of community service, refrain from alcohol, marijuana and drugs, write a letter of apology to the victim and undergo anger-management classes, a mental-health evaluation, a substance-abuse evaluation and a domestic-violence evaluation.

"This makes me think of what you hear as a child on the playground: Why don't you pick on someone your own size?" Seldin said. "There's no justification for physical violence and we condemn it in all its forms."

Strohm, who will serve his sentence at the Pitkin County Jail, left Aspen after the incident with his girlfriend and moved back to his parents' home in Washington state, said his lawyer, public defender Molly Owens.

Strohm said the incident and its aftermath is "the worst thing I've ever gone through" and apologized to the victim, who was present in the courtroom with her mother and supporters.

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"The day I was forced to fight for my life, … I lost a lot of myself," the woman told Seldin.

That included her self-esteem, self-confidence and the ability to feel safe in her home, she said.

The woman and Strohm had been drinking in Aspen the night of the incident, according to police reports. Strohm first allegedly grabbed her by the back of the head and forced her to the ground when she attempted to leave his home.

He dragged her back inside and wouldn't let her leave. At one point, she ran toward the door to leave, but Strohm caught her and slammed her face into a mirror by the front door, police reports state. After that, he let her go.

When the woman appeared in the courtroom in April, she had a black eye and stitches in her lip.

Both the woman and prosecutor Don Nottingham said it wasn't the first time Strohm has behaved like that toward women. Owens, however, said there was nothing in his criminal history to indicate such actions.

Seldin pointed out that the felony conviction on his record will be problematic for Strohm.

"As a young man of 23, that will probably have a greater impact on your future than anything I do," the judge said. "You already have grave consequences for your future."

Also, the felony conviction leaves no room for error, Seldin said. If Strohm commits another similar crime, "You'll be in state prison for quite awhile and I know you wouldn't like that.

"If that's any kind of pattern, you better break that pattern."

Owens said Strohm has taken the incident seriously and remained sober since it occurred.

Strohm's plea deal called for prosecutors not to ask for prison in his case, though he could have faced between two and six years behind bars for the conviction.

In other court news Monday:

• A bank error that initially helped a former employee of a Roaring Fork Valley temporary agency steal more than $16,000 from the business was too difficult to resist for the struggling man, his lawyer said Monday.

George Wood, 36, was "desperate" at the time thanks to financial setbacks and an on-the-job injury when he walked into a Wells Fargo branch in California in March 2017 without his account number, said Tina Fang, Wood's public defender. Though he didn't work for the temp agency anymore, he was still authorized to make withdrawals at the time, she said.

Wells Fargo then made a mistake — "as they have been doing for years" — and gave him the money, which he knew wasn't his, Fang said.

"He took advantage of the situation," she said. "He was blinded by desperation."

He made two withdrawals of more than $8,000 from that California bank and another $8,000 withdrawal from another California bank.

Wood pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft between $750 and $2,000 and could have faced as long as 18 months in the Pitkin County Jail. Instead Judge Seldin sentenced him to two years of supervised probation and 20 hours of community service.

Wood, who lives in Eagle County, said he plans on paying back the entire $16,287 in restitution.

• A Georgia man will spend the next year on unsupervised probation after pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft.

Malik Moore, 41, was himself the victim of a scam in which he purchased discounted gift cards from someone on Craigslist, said Georgina Melbye, his attorney.

"It was too good to be true," she said.

Moore allegedly ran up more than $7,000 on a local woman's credit card, according to court records. Melbye said Moore will pay back all the money he spent. He must also perform 40 hours of community service.

• A 19-year-old Aspen man pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of felony theft for stealing money from a friend's parent and stealing merchandise from a local store where he worked.

Kaden Gustin admitted Monday he took money that was not his and items from the store that did not belong to him.

He faces between one and three years in prison for each count. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

jauslander@aspentimes.com