Future was bright for teen robber | AspenTimes.com

Future was bright for teen robber

Yuri Ognacevic, an Aspen teen-ager who is awaiting sentencing for armed robbery, was enrolled in college last August when he was arrested and charged with the crime, according to documents on file with the local courts.

He had recently graduated from Aspen High School and moved to Boulder to begin the next phase of his life.

Throughout his high school career in Aspen he had been active in hockey and cross country athletics, and was said to be earning “above-average grades.” It is likely that he and his family, Jim and Merrilee Auster, who are living in California, were looking forward to a bright future for the young man.

But that was before Ognacevic and several other local teen-agers were arrested and charged with involvement in what has come to be known as a crime spree in the Aspen and Snowmass Village area.

Ognacevic, 18, pleaded guilty to taking part in an Aug. 5 armed robbery at Clark’s Market in Aspen.

He was originally scheduled to be sentenced in connection with that plea on Dec. 6, but Ninth Judicial District Judge J.E. DeVilbiss has delayed the sentencing hearing until late January to allow Ognacevic’s attorney and the district attorney’s office time for further discussions about the young man’s fate.

According to statements made in court on Dec. 6, judicial district officials had recommended that he serve four years in prison for his crime.

According to presentencing reports filed with the court, Ognacevic also has admitted to being involved in a July 3 burglary at the Take Two video store, located near Clark’s Market, along with a juvenile confederate who also has not been charged in the case.

That presentence report has been added to the public file on Ognacevic, although other documents related to the case have been sealed from public inspection.

A military future?

According to the PSI report, filed by Ninth Judicial District Probation Officer Kyle Miller, Ognacevic was “active in the R.O.T.C. (Reserve Officer Training Corps) program with hopes of entering the military as an officer following college.

Although he was arrested around the same time that he started his first semester at college, Ognacevic told Miller that he believes he can still re-enroll “and would like an opportunity to return to college to continue his education.”

In interviews with law enforcement authorities, including Miller, Ognacevic is said to have “acknowledged his involvement in the … offense was extensive,” including his admission that he provided the group of robbers with a .22 caliber rifle for use in the robbery.

Ognacevic claims, however, that he did not supply any ammunition with the rifle and that he handed over an empty clip “to make it look like it was loaded.”

Ognacevic also admitted to providing information about Clark’s Market’s operations, “such as telling them who was in the store and if the safe was still open,” and to driving the getaway car after the robbery was committed. Miller’s presentence report states that Ognacevic received $5,300 for his part in the robbery, some $3,000 of which he spent on a motorcycle and a kayak.

“It is the opinion of this officer that anything less than a Department of Corrections sentence would diminish the seriousness of the offense,” Miller writes in his presentence report. Miller made note of Ognacevic’s admission to the Take Two burglary in recommending the prison sentence.

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