Judge recuses himself as DiSalvo appears in court
A local municipal court judge recused himself Wednesday morning from the case of a Pitkin County sheriff’s investigator charged with assault.Judge Brooke Peterson cited his longtime friendship with Deputy Joe DiSalvo as a possible conflict of interest during the brief hearing at City Hall. Margaret Ann “Pip” Porter, a local attorney and municipal court judge substitute, will oversee the case.DiSalvo, who made his first appearance in court yesterday, faces a municipal charge of assault and battery after getting into an altercation with Thomas Drake at Jimmy’s restaurant in Aspen on June 22.
The deputy’s next appearance is scheduled for July 28. DiSalvo was accompanied yesterday by his attorney, Pamela Mackey of Denver.DiSalvo allegedly told police that two women had entered the restaurant and began looking for an earring on the floor. Thinking he was making a joke, DiSalvo threw money on the floor near the women, saying “Looking for something?” He told officers he didn’t realize that his action upset one of the women.According to witnesses, Drake, who is a boyfriend of one of the women, then approached DiSalvo to talk to him about the money. DiSalvo told police that although Drake had not struck him or raised a fist, he felt threatened by his demeanor and thought Drake was going to hit him.
DiSalvo told police he struck Drake, though he said he knew he shouldn’t have. Mackey has said that she will use a self-defense argument. Drake was not taken to the hospital, but was checked by medics; police reported that his left cheek looked swollen.Drake told police that he only wanted to talk to DiSalvo about the money that was thrown on the floor. Witnesses also told police that they didn’t see or hear Drake touch or threaten DiSalvo.David Hoefer, prosecuting the case for the city of Aspen, said if DiSalvo pleads not guilty on July 28, a trial date will be set. “It’ll probably be set for a while down the road – probably sometime in October,” Hoefer estimated.
Regarding a possible plea agreement, Hoefer said as with any case there are ongoing discussions between himself and the defense attorney.”At this point there’s no agreement, so that’s where things are at,” he said yesterday. “I do continue to talk with them.”Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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