Disputed arrest for cocaine possession leads to plea deal
Aspen Times Staff Writer
A man arrested for cocaine possession without the benefit of a warrant pleaded guilty to a much less severe charge Monday in Pitkin County District Court.
Cesar Tapia-Perez, 18, pleaded guilty to criminal attempted possession of a controlled substance, a class V felony. While allowing Tapia-Perez to plead to a lesser charge, the plea bargain also helps prosecutors avoid the legal pitfalls created by the suspect’s arrest in March.
Tapia-Perez was taken into custody on March 16 as part of an investigation into a theft case. A woman who called police about the theft of two rings at Cooper Street Pier pointed to Tapia-Perez as he left the bar that night, claiming that he was the man who stole them from her. Two officers handcuffed Tapia-Perez, and, during a routine pat-down for weapons, the officers allegedly found 42 bindles and seven “eight-balls” of cocaine, as well as a baggie of marijuana.
Field tests confirmed the identity of the substances. Tapia-Perez was arrested for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute, a class III felony.
During Tapia-Perez’s first court appearance on March 18, District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss said he saw probable cause to detain the suspect but was not happy with the fact that he was taken into custody without a warrant. The judge said a motion to suppress could be used to help Tapia-Perez avoid prosecution, considering the circumstances of his arrest.
Tapia-Perez’s public defender, Jim Conway, acknowledged that fact Monday afternoon in court.
“There were issues that could have been brought forward had a trial been set,” Conway said as he explained his client’s plea.
Tapia-Perez will be sentenced on July 1.
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