Former Aspen Daily News editor enters guilty plea to DWAI
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Troy Hooper, former editor of the Aspen Daily News, pleaded guilty to driving while alcohol impaired (DWAI) in Pitkin County Court on Tuesday. Sentencing has been set for April 12.
Hooper, 35, was arrested Sept. 10 after Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Levi Borst pulled him over on suspicion of weaving and speeding in a downvalley lane of Highway 82 near Pitkin Iron. At 3:50 a.m., about an hour after he was pulled over, a breath test showed his blood-alcohol content to be 0.124, according to sheriff’s office records.
Though Hooper was initially charged with driving under the influence (DUI) – which is typically applied in cases that involve a BAC of .08 or higher – the lesser DWAI charge represents a plea agreement with the court, said deputy prosecutor Richard Nedlin.
There was little discussion or comment during Tuesday afternoon’s court proceeding. Hooper was represented by Denver attorney Abraham Hutt, who counts DUI cases among his specialty areas. Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely asked Hooper a series of questions requiring yes or no answers to establish that he was pleading guilty to DWAI, and then set the sentencing date.
Nedlin said after the proceeding that his office has recommended a sentence of 10 consecutive days of “day reporting,” an alternative to straight jail time. Hooper likely will have to report to local authorities each morning and submit to a sobriety test, Nedlin said.
The arrest marked the fifth time Hooper had been pulled over on suspicion of drunken driving in the state of Colorado in the past 14 years, according to public records. He only has one conviction, which came in October 1996 after he pleaded guilty to DWAI in Boulder County.
Had Hooper been convicted of a drunken-driving offense in the last five years, he would have faced a minimum 10 days of mandatory jail time, Nedlin said. Hooper’s license was suspended for 12 months following his arrest; the prosecutor said he doesn’t know whether Hooper has appealed that suspension.
The longtime newsman – now a writer for the website realaspen.com – became a newsmaker one year ago this week when he had an early-morning contact with then-Aspen police officer Valerie McFarlane.
She gave Hooper a ride to a friend’s house after he allegedly implied that he would give her favorable press in the newspaper in exchange for not arresting him or charging him with DUI.
McFarlane, who previously had been in the news because of a suspension from the force on ethics violations, subsequently resigned when it came to light that she gave Hooper a ride to a friend’s house. Hooper was let go from the Aspen Daily News in early April, several weeks following the revelation about the McFarlane incident.
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