Infractions by Aspen transients spike in last four months
ASPEN – When Jimmy Baldwin Jr. showed up for Aspen Municipal Court on Wednesday to answer a disorderly conduct charge, he wasn’t the most cooperative of defendants, becoming almost combative with Judge Ted Gardenswartz.
After reviewing the charges, Gardenswartz ordered Baldwin to report to The Right Door, an Aspen agency that provides help and counseling to those with addiction and substance-abuse problems.
“I don’t work well with those people,” Baldwin said.
The judge didn’t budge, however, telling Baldwin to arrange a meeting with The Right Door by Friday and fining him $475. Baldwin said he was broke and there was no way he could – or would – pay the court costs. He said a visit to The Right Door was unlikely as well.
On his way out of the courtroom, a defiant Baldwin spoke to clerk Reed Patterson, who handles payments and paperwork for defendants: “Didn’t you hear me say, ‘I’m not paying.'” He then put on his cowboy hat and left.
Baldwin’s recent brushes with the law aren’t isolated when it comes to Aspen’s homeless contingent. Over the last few months, Aspen police say a chunk of the local homeless population have kept them busy – whether it’s urinating in public, violating the city’s open-container law, committing disorderly conduct or camping where they shouldn’t be.
“They have been a huge problem all summer,” said Ian MacAyeal, an investigator with the Aspen Police Department.
And just earlier this week, police officer Kirk Wheatley had to remove two transients’ campsites that were set up above Koch Lumber Park off Hyman Avenue.
Not all police contacts result in arrests or citations. Sometimes cops simply warn the transients.
Jim True, the city’s prosecutor who handles the Wednesday dockets in Municipal Court, said the recent spate of transient arrests and citations has not created an unusually large caseload for him.
“We seem to have these all year long,” he said. “They just spike at different times.”
True said that over the last few months there has been a handful of transients who are repeat offenders.
He noted the case of 26-year-old David Cain, who’s been a regular in the system.
Last Wednesday, the same day Baldwin was in court and insisted he would not pay the court fines or go to The Right Door, Cain was there to face a charge of breaking the open-container law. True revealed to Gardenswartz that Cain still owed a city fine that was issued in 2009. Gardenswartz ordered Cain to get help for his apparent problem with alcohol.
On Thursday, Patterson, the court clerk, received a call from Cain, who reported he would be seeking help through Colorado West Regional Mental Health, a rehabilitation facility.
Other transients on the police department’s radar have been Bartley Morris, 31, and Arthur Joseph Myatt III, 45.
Morris has been issued citations twice this summer – on June 18 he was busted for breaking the open-container law; he was charged with the same offense on June 23.
Myatt has been cited at least three times in the past few months. On July 2 he was charged with disorderly conduct and violation of a protection order after he allegedly was found with an open bottle of beer and a bottle of vodka in the alley behind the Isis Theater. He also was believed to have been threatening an Isis employee, police said.
Nearly five weeks later, on Aug. 6, he was issued a Municipal Court summons for trespassing after he allegedly refused to leave Escobar, a downtown bar. And on Sept. 16, he was ticketed for another open-container violation.
Baldwin, meanwhile, apparently had difficulty all week staying out of trouble. After he left Wednesday’s Municipal Court hearing, less than six hours later police received a call that he was beating on the room doors of the Hotel Aspen, and breaking a bottle in the lodge’s courtyard. Baldwin had been in a scuffle with none other than Cain. Police eventually tracked down Baldwin and Cain at the nearby Tyrolean Lodge.
“[Baldwin] was sitting on a bench and drinking from a bottle,” MacAyeal said.
Baldwin was charged again with disorderly conduct. Police ran the name and birth date of Baldwin, 31, learning that he has outstanding warrants in at least two states. But the warrants aren’t extraditable, meaning he can’t legally be transported back to the states where he’s wanted for misdemeanor offenses.
Early Friday morning, Baldwin was arrested yet again – this time on an open-container violation charge. He was out of jail before noon.
In a span of nine days – starting on Sept. 21, the day he arrived in town – the Idaho transient has had at least four contacts with Aspen police.
In the Sept. 21 incident, Baldwin had another confrontation with another homeless man, James Griebling. According to a police report, the two had been harassing customers at Junk restaurant in downtown Aspen and were ordered to leave by management. Police tracked the pair to East Cooper Avenue, where they were “standing in the middle of the street,” yelling at each other. As an officer directed Griebling toward his patrol vehicle, “he threw a water bottle towards Baldwin,” according to the report.
When police found alcohol in the water bottle, they cited Griebling for an open container violation and disorderly conduct. He’s due in court Wednesday, the same day Baldwin is set to appear as well on Thursday’s disorderly citation and Friday’s open-container charge.
Patterson, who has seen homeless individuals come and go through the Aspen court system over the years, said it gets frustrating after awhile – the same problems, but often different transients.
“They’re still old enough to know better,” she said.
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