Greengrass facing 12 years in prison |

Greengrass facing 12 years in prison

John Colson

Moses Greengrass, accused of being the “ringleader” of a crime spree in Aspen last year, was sentenced to 12 years in the state penitentiary on Monday.

The sentence was handed down by Judge J.E. DeVilbiss after a lengthy hearing in which two doctors testified that Greengrass suffered from “post traumatic stress disorder” and a variety of other cognitive, behavioral and emotional problems as a result of head injuries he sustained in a car accident in 1998.

The doctors, and attorney Gary Lozow, strove to convince Judge DeVilbiss to not give Greengrass, 19, any more prison time than the 10-year minimum sentence arranged in a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office.

Greengrass is the sixth of 12 local teens to be sentenced in connection with a string of armed robberies, burglaries and car thefts committed last year in Aspen and Snowmass Village.

One of the witnesses at Greengrass’ hearing, psychologist Dennis Helffenstein, testified that Greengrass has a “verbal IQ” of 123, which puts him in the 99th percentile in the general population. But, Helffenstein added, “Absolutely, the injury has affected his judgment and his reasoning abilities.”

But Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills argued that Greengrass had behavior problems long before the car accident, and that his ability to orchestrate criminal activity seems to have been unimpaired by his injury.

“He didn’t have any trouble planning this criminal act … organizing his friends … manipulating his friends to do what he wanted them to do, did he?” Wills demanded.

“No, he’s apparently very persuasive,” replied Helffenstein.

Wills said that Greengrass has been defying authority and committing crimes since the age of 14, quoting from old police statements as evidence of the defendant’s continuing anti-social behavior.

” `Get away from me, you fucking pigs …’ – isn’t that a little unusual for a 14-year-old to be saying to a policeman?” Wills asked. “We have seen this type of behavior out of Moses clear back before the accident.”

Helffenstein noted that 14-year-olds in general exhibit anger and resistance toward authority figures, but admitted that the reports Wills was referring to were never shown to him when he was testing and analyzing Greengrass.

When asked by Wills whether a young man who has admitted involvement in four armed robberies and three burglaries in a nine-month period is someone who is likely to respond to therapy, Helffenstein replied, “I think there’s a possibility of treatment.”

But when pressed by Wills, he conceded that he would not want Greengrass living in his own neighborhood, “probably not until after he’s through treatment.”

Wills recommended that Greengrass be sent to prison for 14 years, telling the judge, “He’s absolutely the ringleader.” Wills argued that Greengrass admitted being part of armed robberies at the Stage 3 Theatres in January 1999, and in the Clark’s Market and Village Market armed robberies in August 1999, and that he was always the one who grabbed the money, but not the one who carried a gun.

“The truth is … Moses Greengrass manipulated his co-defendants to do the things he didn’t want to be responsible for,” Wills declared.

The judge compromised between the two sides, ordering Greengrass to serve a total of 12 years in return for pleading guilty to the Clark’s and Village Market jobs.

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