Felony theft trial begins
ASPEN Though Jeffrey Key faces relatively light theft charges, conviction on any count would mean years in prison.Key’s trial on charges of stealing $1,000 and various other items, opened Wednesday in 9th Judicial District Court in Aspen. Key is well known to Aspen police, who have arrested him 22 times since the beginning of 2005. He faces a five-year suspended sentence if convicted because he was on probation for theft at the time of the alleged crimes.He faces three felony charges – unauthorized use of a credit card, theft and possession of two stolen credit cards – along with a count misdemeanor theft. The jury will not know of Key’s previous criminal record, however. Key has been incarcerated for months on a parole violation.According to police, a woman at local nightclub the Lava Room reported her wallet stolen along with a friend’s cell phone on Aug. 11. Within an hour of the incident, someone went to Alpine Bank and withdrew $1,000 with her card.Police obtained a video from the ATM that shows a man with a shirt over much of his face withdrawing money. Much of the case is based on identifying the man in the grainy ATM video, which became a central part of case in preliminary hearings. Another crucial piece of evidence is the stolen cell phone, which Aspen police found in Key’s car during a traffic stop Aug. 23. During opening statements, defense attorney Arnie Mordkin said Key would testify that he found the phone in a park and that no evidence ties Key to the actual thefts. The jury of seven women and five men heard opening statements Wednesday. One of the most time-consuming questions regarded whether jurors had been victims of theft themselves. More than half answered yes. Since jurors adjourned after opening statements, the trial will likely finish Friday. Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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