‘Hooch’ found in teen’s Pitkin County Jail cell
A Woody Creek teen being held in the Pitkin County Jail on numerous sexual assault charges was found with homemade alcohol or “hooch” in his cell Thursday morning, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.
The 18-year-old told a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy he used Red Hots candy, Jolly Ranchers candy, milk and a banana to make the “thick reddish pink substance” in a sports drink bottle, according to the report.
Told that the bottle — which was found in the trashcan in the teen’s cell — contained alcohol, the teen appeared surprised, the report states.
“It really tested positive for alcohol?” he said, according to the report.
Though he is charged as an adult in three of the four sex assault cases filed against him, The Aspen Times is not identifying the 18-year-old. That’s because he was 17 when the charges were filed and has asked District Judge Chris Seldin to transfer his cases back to juvenile court.
That determination has not yet been made. Juveniles are not usually identified in the media.
A jail deputy found the bottle in the trash the morning after the teen appeared in District Court on Wednesday for a preliminary hearing on the three sex assault cases. The hearing, which would have determined whether prosecutors have probable cause to charge him, never occurred because the District Attorney’s Office made a plea offer that required he waive the hearing.
Deputies used a portable breath test device to determine the presence of alcohol in the bottle, the report states.
“I smelled the substance and it had a distinct sweet, fermented smell to it, much like sweet wine,” Deputy Monique Merritt wrote in the report. On Thursday, she compared it to the smell of sangria.
The substance itself was “gelatinous” and “very thick and couldn’t be poured out of the bottle,” she said.
The teen initially said he’d been trying to make ice cream.
“(He) told me he left the bottle in the fridge and forgot about it,” according to the report. “Then yesterday, he took it out, tasted it by dipping his finger in the bottle and licking his finger and decided it was gross so he threw it out.
“(He) insisted that he didn’t know the ingredients would make alcohol. (He) said he’s been sober for nine months and does not want to go back to drinking.”
The 18-year-old could face a felony charge of introducing contraband into a jail, though that charge was still pending Friday.
Prison hooch is generally made by mashing up fruit cocktail, apples, raisins and oranges in a Ziploc bag, adding sugar and warm water and sealing the bag, according to an internet search.
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Cam Daniel is a former youth addiction counselor who’s been a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy for three years.