Jail time for baking powder?
A United Kingdom man was released from the local jail yesterday after he was held for 19 days for possession of what may be baking powder.
Brian David Palmer, 30, insisted from the outset that he was being held on bogus charges. After the white, powdery substance found in his possession twice tested negative for cocaine and methamphetamines, he was released from the Pitkin County Jail Monday on a personal recognizance bond.
During his first appearance in Pitkin County’s 9th Judicial District Court on July 19, Palmer claimed that the approximately 25 grams of white powder in question was actually baking powder.
Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills said during a court recess Monday that he had Palmer’s case put on yesterday’s docket so he could be released after two separate, follow-up field tests of the white substance came back with negative results.
Palmer was arrested July 14 on a warrant, after Aspen Valley Hospital staffers found the substance in his belongings and called police. The powder was field tested by Aspen Police Officer Bill Linn, and when it came back with a “positive presumptive indication of the presence of cocaine,” the warrant for Palmer’s arrest was issued.
But even though two subsequent field tests refute the results of the initial test, Wills did not dismiss the charges against Palmer yesterday. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is presently testing the substance, Wills said, and the results of that, definitive test will dictate the course of the case.
“We feel it’s important not to imprison people unless we’re absolutely sure that the substance is illegal,” Wills said after court Monday. “We want to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant.”
Palmer remains charged with possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. Both counts are felonies.
On July 10, police found Palmer sitting cross-legged at the corner of Original Street and Durant Avenue in an unconscious state, according to an arrest warrant. Police called an ambulance, which took Palmer to AVH, and while hospital staffers were administering emergency care, a bag containing the powder was discovered in his belongings.
“We’re very concerned about Mr. Palmer,” Wills said before the court, citing two separate July incidents in which Palmer was brought to the hospital for health problems related to substance abuse.
“And we didn’t test [the substance] for heroin,” Wills added.
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International visitors have traditionally accounted for 10 to 20 percent of Aspen Skiing Co.’s skier visits in recent past seasons. Travel fears and restrictions tied to the coronavirus are expected to wipe out most of that market for 2020-21.