Judge: Aspen cop fighter competent
A 51-year-old man on the verge of a prison sentence for assaulting two Aspen police officers is competent and able to understand his situation, a district judge ruled Monday.
Landin Smith’s newest lawyer recently filed a sealed motion that not even prosecutors were allowed to see requesting that his client be sent to the state psychiatric hospital in Pueblo for the third time to establish his competency, according to statements made Monday by Judge Chris Seldin and prosecutor Andrea Bryan.
Smith has already been found competent twice by state psychiatrists, and “we are probably going to get the exact same report” if he’s sent to the institution again, Bryan said.
Seldin agreed, saying he had a confidential discussion with Smith this spring about why Smith wanted to fire his public defender and obtain a new laywer. At that time, Smith displayed “quite a good grasp of the proceedings against him” and presented “a well-reasoned argument” for wanting another lawyer, Seldin said.
“I believe Mr. Smith does not have a mental disorder or a developmental disorder to prevent him” from understanding what is happening and participating in his own defense, Seldin said in making the preliminary finding.
Smith’s lawyer, Garth McCarty, now has 14 days to object to the ruling, which would trigger a competency hearing, probably later this month, Bryan said.
In February 2015, Smith assaulted an Aspen police sergeant who was driving him to a detox facility. Then, after posting bond and briefly leaving jail in December, Smith was arrested again within hours after police found him drunk at the Aspen Homeless Shelter, which violated his bond conditions of release. He later kicked an officer at the jail, according to court documents.
Smith pleaded guilty in February to two felony counts of assault on a police officer and faced between four and 10 years in prison. However, he fired his public defender soon after, and the case has bogged down since then.
On Monday, Smith appeared in court with a bandage on his right hand, though Pitkin County Jail Director Don Bird declined to comment on the reason for the bandage.
In other court news Monday:
• A 45-year-old man who’s been given “opportunity after opportunity” to avoid jail on numerous felony cases was sentenced to two years in prison Monday.
Taylor Colton was given more breaks than any other defendant with a similar criminal history but never took advantage of them, Bryan said.
“All the opportunities the defendant has been given have been completely ineffective to get him to take responsibility for his actions,” Bryan said. “Prison is really the only option we have here.”
Colton, who has called himself a magazine publisher in past years, was convicted of felony trespassing in 2012 and given probation. He was arrested on identity theft, fraud and forgery — all three felonies — in 2015, and then stopped reporting for drug and alcohol tests in December, Bryan has said.
Police arrested him in Las Vegas and brought him back to Aspen.
His lawyer told Seldin on Monday that Colton suffers from attention-deficit disorder and bipolar disorder and gets into trouble when he abuses drugs and alcohol.
Seldin told Colton he doesn’t often sentence people to prison but had no choice in Colton’s case.
“The ladder of sentencing has been climbed,” he said. “So now the court has no options left but to send you to (the Department of Corrections).”
Colton said he regretted his mistakes and admitted that he “spirals out of control” when he stops taking his medication.
• A 22-year-old man pleaded guilty to felony burglary and misdemeanor theft Monday for entering a vacant Snowmass Village condo in February and stealing items.
Michael Keefe could have faced between four and 12 years in prison for the burglary charge, but Bryan agreed to give him a deferred judgment and sentence, which means he’ll likely be sentenced to probation and the charge will be wiped from his record if he stays out of trouble for two years.
Keefe is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
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