Judge delays sentencing of Clark’s Market robber
One of the 11 local young men charged in connection with a crime spree in Aspen earlier this year apparently threatened to harm himself if he is sent to prison, and confusion about the situation may have kept him out of prison for now.
A local court official this week recommended that Yuri Ognacevic be put in the Colorado Department of Corrections system for four years for his part in the Aug. 5 armed robbery of the Clark’s Market grocery story in Aspen.
But 9th Judicial District Judge J.E. DeVilbiss decided Monday to hold off on sentencing Ognacevic until Jan. 31, giving his attorney more time to work with district officials and clarify what DeVilbiss called “contradictions” contained in a presentencing investigation report.
Ognacevic, 18, pleaded guilty last month to one count of felony armed robbery in return for dismissal of four other counts related to the crime.
Along with two other defendants in the multilayered case arising from a series of crimes in August and September – Moses Greengrass and Thomas Colver, both 19 – Ognacevic appeared in the Pitkin County Courthouse Monday.
District probation officer Kyle Miller, who prepared the presentencing report on Ognacevic, confirmed that he recommended the four-year prison sentence for the young man. Miller declined to release other details of his report, and it was not available from the court clerk’s office at the close of the day.
But during a hearing before DeVilbiss, Ognacevic’s attorney, Fred Gannett, requested more time to prepare for the sentencing, which had been scheduled yesterday afternoon.
DeVilbiss expressed some disquiet about what he called Gannett’s “last-gasp motion of continuance,” and predicted that “this case … will likely require some attention.” Gannett said he needed to “complete some final investigations.”
DeVilbiss noted the introduction of local psychologist Craig Angus into the case, as well as the lack of a diagnosis from Angus in the presentencing report. Remarking that the report contains “some contradictions,” DeVilbiss noted that Ognacevic had “denied any suicidal ideations or thoughts” but that he has threatened to “do something” if given prison time.
DeVilbiss said these issues must be addressed before the next hearing in the case. Greengrass waives hearing Later on Monday, DeVilbiss accepted a motion from the attorney representing Greengrass to waive his right to a preliminary hearing and admit that police had “probable cause” for arresting him for his alleged involvement in the Clark’s robbery as well as a robbery at the Snowmass Village Market and the burglary of a home on Twining Flats.
DeVilbiss also asked Greengrass’ attorney, Pip Porter, to do what she can to prevent concerned locals from writing to DeVilbiss about the case.
The judge said he had received a number of letters, naming local alternative health care specialist Phyllis Bronson as the most recent correspondent. He said he had refused to read her letter, once he realized what it was, adding, “I was very disturbed that a professional would communicate with me.”
DeVilbiss indicated that he considers such communications inappropriate, saying, “I, of course, don’t want to be contacted and will resist any attempt to be contacted.”
He noted that the defense certainly would not want him to hold such “ex parte” discussions with the prosecution in any particular case, pointing out that for such communications to take place is unfair to both sides. No ruling on suppression In another hearing, the judge heard arguments on whether to suppress evidence in a drug possession case against Colver, and is expected to rule on the motion on Dec. 10. Colver also faces charges in connection with an armed robbery at the Aspen Alps on Aug. 6.
His hearing yesterday concerned an Aug. 14 traffic stop in which police searched Colver and allegedly found a baggie of marijuana in his sock and a bag of psilocybin mushrooms (an illegal hallucinogen) under his seat in the car.
The car, a silver Audi A-4 owned by Ellen Rizutto, was driven by her son, Tony. Both Colver and Tony, 19, have been linked to a series of armed robberies in Aspen and Snowmass Village.
Police Officer Bill Linn testified that he arrived after Pitkin County Deputy Sheriff Liz Johnson had pulled over Rizutto’s car based on a report that he was speeding down Independence Pass at 100 mph.
Linn testified that he was told both Colver and another passenger were suspects under investigation in the armed robbery cases. Linn said another officer, Brian Heeney, suggested he search the car for weapons.
It was during that search that Linn allegedly found a baggie of marijuana hidden in Colver’s right sock and subsequently, allegedly discovered a baggie containing the mushrooms under the front passenger’s seat, where Colver had been sitting.
Colver’s attorney, Walt Brown, argued that Linn was supposed to be searching for weapons, and that since he did not find any, he was overstepping his authority in both seizing the baggie of suspected marijuana and in searching the car.
Judge DeVilbiss said he would read the cases cited by Brown and Deputy District Attorney Lawson Wills, and rule on the matter by Friday.
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