DA adds charges against suspects
The district attorney’s office may have supplied some of the suspects in Aspen’s summer crime spree with extra incentive to negotiate plea bargains Monday.
The prosecutor played hard ball with five of the seven suspects who appeared in court by filing more charges than anticipated against them.
Most significant among the new counts were crimes of violence charges filed against Moses Greengrass, William “Wade” Hammond and Yuri Ognacevic, all 18 years of age. If convicted of that charge, the three men would face mandatory prison time.
Deputy District Attorney Lawson Wills, who filed the formal charges, was busy in court all Monday afternoon, but District Attorney Mac Myers explained that crime of violence is a “sentence enhancer.” It “raises the floor” in judge’s sentencing decisions, he said. The charge is often used when a gun or another weapon is used in a crime.
Greengrass is facing two crime of violence charges for allegedly participating in the Aug. 5 armed robbery of Clark’s Market in Aspen and the Aug. 19 armed robbery of Snowmass Village Market.
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Greengrass is facing a total of 14 felony charges. In addition to the robberies, he is accused of playing a role in the Sept. 20 burglary of a home in Twining Flats and in the theft of a vehicle from the Aspen Club Lodge parking lot.
There are eight suspects in the four crimes. Some are accused of participating in only one incident while police claim Greengrass is tied to all of them.
Formal charges were filed against seven of the eight defendants in District Court Monday. Charges are expected to be filed against the eighth suspect, Stefan Schutter, 17, next month, according to the district attorney’s office. Families watch proceedings Most of the suspects were led separately into the packed court room with their ankles shackled. They wore the Day-Glo orange garb of Pitkin County Jail or drab colors of the Eagle or Garfield county jails.
Only Code Wille, 17, has bonded out of jail. He appeared in his street clothes, accompanied by his mother.
The families of several suspects were in the audience but few, if any, made anything more than eye contact with the young men. Family friends, including several youths and Aspen public school Superintendent Tom Farrell, were also in the crowd.
The suspects’ appearances before Judge J.E. DeVilbiss lasted only a minute or two each. They appeared with attorneys, received copies of the formal charges from Wills and set dates for further proceedings next month.
Nathan Morse’s attorney, Arnold Mordkin, asked the judge to lift a “no contact” order with the other suspects. That order was preventing Morse from being moved from the Eagle County to Pitkin County Jail, according to Mordkin.
After discussing the issue with Wills, DeVilbiss cleared the way for Morse to return to his hometown. However, the judge noted that the jail staff can still choose to keep the suspects separated.
Morse and the other suspects who had been housed in other jurisdictions’ jails before Monday were returned to those other jails Monday afternoon. Charges increase Greengrass wasn’t the only suspect to see the number of charges against him increased Monday. Greengrass was arrested on 10 charges but had 14 formally filed against him.
Hammond was arrested for three charges in connection with the Snowmass Village Market robbery. Five charges were formally filed against him.
The charges against Ognacevic increased from three to four, all in connection with the Clark’s Market robbery.
Morse, 18, was arrested for three charges but is now facing five charges in connection with a vehicle theft from the Aspen Club Lodge and the Twining Flats home burglary.
Jacob Richards, 18, was arrested for five charges and now faces six. He was formally charged with conspiracy to commit robbery for allegedly helping plan the Clark’s heist. The other five charges are connected to the home burglary.
The charges against Anthony Rizzuto, 19, remained at five. He is accused of assisting in the home burglary and vehicle theft.
Three charges tied to the Clark’s Market robbery had been previously filed against Wille. Unlike Ognacevic and Greengrass, two alleged accomplices in that heist, he isn’t facing a crime of violence charge.
Court documents indicate that the eighth suspect, Schutter, may face a multitude of charges. Information filed against other suspects accuses Schutter of participating in the Clark’s and Village Market robberies.
Schutter is currently being held in a juvenile facility near Grand Junction on unrelated charges. Work on plea bargains The next step for at least some of the suspects will be negotiating plea bargains. Ognacevic, Richards and Wille have all allegedly confessed to their roles in the Clark’s robbery, according to arrest warrant affidavits.
Morse allegedly confessed stealing a vehicle from Aspen Club Lodge and to a limited role in the home burglary.
Wille’s attorney was the only one who acknowledged in court that he is working on a plea bargain. Attorney Tom Silverman of Glenwood Springs asked that Wille’s next appearance be scheduled on Nov. 29 “to see if we have a disposition.”
There were other, more subtle indications that at least one other suspect’s attorney will be seeking a plea deal this week.
Most of the defendants are scheduled back in court Nov. 1.
Myers said his office won’t discuss whether or not plea bargains have been arranged before they are accepted in court. He said it violates the attorney’s code of ethics to discuss a plea deal before it is accepted by a judge.
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