Judge suppresses statement in Aspen rape case
ASPEN – Legal wrangling in an Aspen rape case continued Thursday, during which time a district judge suppressed statements the suspect made to a nurse who examined him more than 12 hours after the alleged crime.
Among the statements Pitkin County District Judge James Boyd threw out included Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun’s remark that “I had a bad relapse and made some bad choices at the bar.”
Gonzalez-Loujun allegedly told that to sexual assault nurse examiner Carol Began, whom public defenders claim interrogated the suspect and provided his statements to Aspen police without advising him of his rights.
Public defenders Stephen McCrohan and Tina Faing also had argued that the nurse asked Gonzalez-Loujun a number of questions to entice incriminating responses when she inspected him at Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs.
Boyd agreed, saying the nurse made a “custodial interrogation” and an “inappropriate interrogation.”
Boyd also took a number of other motions by the defense under advisement. In addition to the ones that have been argued before him over the course of three hearings – the first one was held New Year’s Eve – the judge must now also rule on two new motions from the defense: One seeks a special prosecutor, the other a change of venue.
Gonzalez-Loujun, of Carbondale, faces a possible lifetime behind bars for allegedly sexually assaulting the victim in the early morning hours of Jan. 17, 2009, outside the Centennial Apartments complex. Since his arrest, he has been in the custody of the Pitkin County jail on a $250,000 bond.
Authorities believe Gonzalez-Loujun forced the woman to perform at least three sexual acts. They also claim Gonzalez-Loujun dragged her to a snowbank and raped her twice, threatening to kill himself with a gun if she didn’t comply with his demands.
He also faces felony charges connected to resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer, along with counts of unlawful possession of cocaine and attempted distribution of cocaine.
He originally was arrested for the police assault and drug charges, after cops had encountered him walking away from the apartment complex when they were responding to a report that a rape had occurred.
But the time after his arrest has attracted the scrutiny of Faing and McCrohan, who contend his constitutional rights were violated because police did not provide a suspect lineup for the alleged victim. Instead, police only produced Gonzalez-Loujun, whom the alleged victim immediately identified when she saw him – in custody -next to two patrol vehicles.
Faing had choice words for the police officers’ handling of the Gonzalez-Loujun case.
“The Aspen Police Department doesn’t seem to know anything about doing a lineup,” she said.
She also accused officers Robert Fabrocini and Kirk Wheatley of lying under oath when they testified that no police lights were shining on the suspect when the alleged victim identified him.
“What they chose to do was an incredibly suggestive show-up,” she said.
She added: “There might as well have been red arrows pointing at him.”
Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin didn’t directly address that aspect of Faing’s argument, instead arguing that the alleged victim might have only got a good look at the suspect twice, but that was good enough for her to positively identify him.
“She’s being raped by him … he puts his hands over her eyes, he’s pulling her down the street,” he said. “She remembers unequivocally seeing him when she’s running up the stairs to get away from him.”
Boyd said he would have to review police video of the woman identifying Gonzalez-Loujun as the attacker before ruling on whether to suppress the identification.
Boyd also took under advisement a motion that argues Gonzalez-Loujun’s rights were violated the morning he was interrogated at the Pitkin County jail.
“Prior to the interrogation Mr. Gonzalez was not permitted to sleep, use the bathroom or to urinate,” the motion says.
The motion also contends he was not advised of his Miranda rights before the interrogation, and that he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
The defense also is asking the judge to break the charges into three separate trials: one for the sexual assault and kidnapping case, one for the drug charges, and one for the assault of a police officer counts.
The hearing was continued to Thursday, Jan. 28. A jury trial is scheduled for Feb. 9-12 and Feb. 16-17.
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Stage 1 fire restrictions in Pitkin County start Wednesday, which means no campfires in undeveloped sites, no fireworks and no smoking outside unless it’s in an area cleared of all combustible materials.