DA decides to appoint special prosecutor for Parachute rape case
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen CO, Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Prosecutors asked Wednesday for a special prosecutor to handle the case of a former Parachute police officer accused of rape.
Kristopher Joe Duncan, 25, of Battlement Mesa, appeared in court briefly wearing cargo pants, boots and a blue and white striped collared shirt. Deputy District Attorney James Leuthauser said his office has filed a motion for a special prosecutor.
Reached by phone, District Attorney Martin Beeson said he decided to seek appointment of a special prosecutor out of an abundance of caution. It’s not required by law in this case, he said, but it could help avoid an actual or apparent conflict of interest.
“In a case like this, where it’s one law enforcement agency against another law enforcement agency in the same judicial district, I just deem that it’s probably best and cleaner if we have somebody else take care of the case,” he said.
It wasn’t decided Wednesday which DA’s office would prosecute the case.
Defense attorney Greg Greer walked into the courtroom to represent Duncan. He declined to discuss details of the case but offered this prepared statement:
“A different picture usually emerges after initial allegations are closely examined and put to the test of evidence and investigation. I expect this case to follow that rule.”
Garfield County deputies arrested Duncan April 18 on suspicion of second-degree sexual assault. He was initially held in the Pitkin County jail, farther away from Parachute than the Garfield County jail, for his own protection. He posted a $7,500 bond last week.
The Grand River Medical Center had reported it was treating a patient who said she was sexually assaulted by a Parachute officer.
The alleged victim and a group of people, including Parachute police officer Prince Whiting, were at Duncan’s apartment playing video games late at night. Duncan is accused of making repeated unwanted advances and raping the woman after she was trying to sleep around 3 a.m., according to an arrest affidavit.
The woman was afraid and didn’t try to fight him off because he was a police officer and a “really strong” ex-Marine, the affidavit says.
The affidavit contains no information about statements from Duncan. It says a nurse conducted a rape examination and found no signs of trauma and was unable to determine whether the woman recently had sex.
Duncan’s number was unlisted and someone at the Parachute Police Department said they don’t have a contact number.
Duncan was hired Feb. 1 and was still an officer-in-training when he was terminated the day of his arrest. He’ll appear again June 4 for formal filing of charges.
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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the city of Aspen that challenged its zoning laws concerning Mill Street Plaza, which is home to locally serving businesses.