Details of alleged St. Moritz brawl aired in court
ASPEN – A judge ruled Monday there is enough probable cause to prosecute an Aspen newcomer on six of nine felony counts he faces in connection to an alleged row he had with Aspen police before he was shot with Tasers and subdued with a paramedic’s injection.
Judge Gail Nichols’ delivered the ruling at the end of a preliminary hearing that lasted more than three hours in Pitkin County District Court for transient and self-described cage fighter Charles Brandon White, 28, who’s been in county jail since his Sept. 13 arrest at the St. Moritz Lodge in Aspen.
Prosecutors say White hurt four officers the morning in question; but Nichols said there’s only enough evidence to move forward on two of the charges. She ruled that two felony charges of second-degree assault on a police officer with an intent to cause bodily injury had sufficient probable cause, but dropped two identical charges, citing a lack of evidence and calling it “very thin.”
Even so, Nichols upheld four additional counts of second-degree assault on a peace officer while in custody. She said she would rule later on additional felony charge of criminal impersonation.
At the preliminary hearing, which is held to determine if probable cause exists to warrant the charges and in which the evidence is viewed by a judge in the light most favorable to the prosecution, district attorneys Arnold Mordkin and Richard Nedlin tried to demonstrate that White had inflicted bodily injury on four police officers the morning in question.
That’s when police responded to a report of domestic violence after the alleged victim, White’s girlfriend, told police he had struck her in the face. The two had been living at the St. Moritz for the last month with their two young children, who were in their room with White when police arrived. The alleged victim was outside of the lodge, and told police White had a knife.
According to testimony from police officers Forrest Barnett and Sgt. Rob Fabrocini, when they went to the couple’s room, the lights were out and White was lying on the bed with his two children, one in each arm. White told the officers to leave but they didn’t, telling him they wanted to get his side of the story about the alleged incident with his wife.
White became combative, telling police he was a UFC fighter and that his name was Charles Robbins, sparking the criminal impersonation count.
“We explained that leaving was not an option,” Barnett testified.
As White thrust his fists toward police, officer Adam Loudon handcuffed one of White’s hands, telling him he was under arrest, Barnett said. Fabrocini then grabbed White’s free, left arm, and a scuffle ensued.
“It was just a wrestling match at that point,” Barnett said.
White, however, did not go quietly, the officer testified.
“He was angry, screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs,” he said. “He was flexing his whole body … throwing his head around.”
Loudon deployed a Taser on White, but “he didn’t stop resisting,” Barnett said.
“Mr. White announced something to the effect that ‘that doesn’t affect me,” he said.
Barnett said that White flung him to the wall near the room’s door entrance, and said, “How do you like that wall, bitch.”
White also made references to Hell’s Angels and the Aryan Nation. The second time he was Tasered, police were able to cuff him. Even so, White kept fighting back, according to Fabrocini and Barnett’s testimony.
Once he was placed in the patrol car and after much resistance, a paramedic sedated him with a medical injection into his thigh. He was then taken out of the car, and, while restrained in a gurney en route to an ambulance, allegedly spit at the paramedic and other law enforcement officials on the scene. White told them said that’s “Hep C, bitch,” in reference to Hepatitis C, which subsequent tests showed he did not have, police said.
Judge Nichols said there was evidence to support both Fabrocini and Barnett sustained injuries, albeit it slight in the form of a minor scratches, scrapes and a hurt back on Fabrocini. Each charge carries a mandatory minimum of five years in prison if White is convicted; they also must run consecutively. The four charges were filed Friday by Mordkin, which defense attorney Chip McCrory tried to have dismissed because of the late timing. But Nichols, who chided the prosecutor for the last-minute filing, upheld the counts nonetheless.
The judge, however, said there was not sufficient evidence to show officers Loudon and Chance Williams, who did not testify, were injured, resulting in her dismissal of the two assault on a police officer with the intent to injure.
The four felony charges of assault on a peace officer while in confinement will remain, however, along with four misdemeanors linked to the alleged spitting incidents.
White sat silent during the hearing, which his girlfriend initially intended with the two children. Judge Nichols, though, instructed the children to leave, saying it was inappropriate for them to sit in on the hearing.
White is due back in court March 7.
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