Judge denies evidence suppression in Aspen school gun case
December 8, 2009
ASPEN – A judge denied a former bus driver’s bid to suppress evidence implicating him in a weapons charge on the Aspen school grounds.
Stephane M. Peltier was arrested in May for allegedly carrying a weapon on the Aspen School District campus, one day after he brought a rifle on school property and displayed it to another individual.
On Monday in Pitkin County District Court, public defender Stephen McCrohan and prosecutor Arnold Mordkin wrangled over the legalities of the arrest of Peltier, who had been an Aspen school bus driver, on and off, for four years.
McCrohan sought to suppress two apparent confessions from Peltier to Deputy Brad Gibson, who confronted the suspect about the rifle. McCrohan argued that Peltier’s constitutional rights were violated, contending that Gibson forced the French transplant into a confession.
District Judge James Boyd disagreed, reasoning that Gibson’s exchange with Peltier was a “consenting encounter.”
Boyd also denied McCrohan’s motion to suppress the rifle as evidence. McCrohan had contended that police needed a warrant to search the Volkswagen, and that they coerced him into providing them consent to search the back of his Sirocco, which was parked next to the bus barn, on school property.
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However, Boyd did grant McCrohan’s motion to suppress Peltier’s alleged statement to police that they could search his vehicle for the rifle, and nothing else.
According to an affidavit from Gibson, Peltier told a man that he “would be able to take care of problems the [man] was experiencing with [his] ex-wife. The man believed Peltier “was offering to murder [his] ex-wife,” the affidavit says, adding that the man did not believe Peltier, who is in his late 50s, was joking.
The gun was not loaded when police confiscated it, Gibson testified.
Peltier is free on $2,500 bond.