Judge throws out Aspen rape defendant’s statements
ASPEN – A judge Thursday suppressed statements made to police by the man accused of raping a woman at Aspen’s Centennial Apartments last year.
Pitkin County District Judge James Boyd concluded that both Aspen police and the district attorney’s office failed to properly handle and provide some evidence to the public defender’s office, ranging from police videos to blood samples from the suspect, Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun, 22, of Carbondale.
The judge noted that when it comes to police work, it is “hard to impossible” to accomplish it with “complete success.”
Boyd noted, however, that “there is no dispute that there have been several violations” of discovery laws under Colorado Rule 16 by Aspen police and prosecutor Arnold Mordkin.
Boyd’s suppression was the latest development in a rape case that was originally scheduled to go to trial next month.
But because of legal arguments centering around discovery aspects of the case, Gonzalez-Loujun, who pleaded not guilty to the charges in August, waived his right to a speedy trial.
Gonzalez-Loujun, who is in the Pitkin County jail on $250,000 bond, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of sexually assaulting and kidnapping an Aspen woman outside of the Centennial Apartments complex on the morning of Jan. 17, 2009.
Authorities believe the woman, against her will, performed at least three sexual acts with Gonzalez-Loujun. They also claim Gonzalez-Loujun dragged her to a snowbank and sexually assaulted her twice, threatening to kill himself with a gun if she didn’t comply with his demands.
He originally was arrested for allegedly assaulting a police officer 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.
Gonzalez-Loujun made several statements to police that morning, although a confession to the alleged crimes was not made.
Boyd ruled that he did not find anything “intentional or willful” by the Aspen Police Department or the district attorney’s office in the handling of the case. But he determined that that both offices have demonstrated a “failure to completely fix these flaws.”
Among them were police officers’ continued interrogation of the suspect, even though he had asked for a lawyer.
Authorities also failed to provide police vehicle video evidence of the arrest of Gonzalez-Loujun in a timely manner. Additionally, both the prosecution and police apparently stymied efforts by the public defender’s office to collect blood samples obtained from the suspect.
The judge’s ruling fell short of what public defenders Stephen McCrohan and Tina Fang’s had sought, including a complete dismissal of the case.
Fang also told the court she learned Wednesday that blood evidence, which the public defender’s office obtained earlier this month, was contaminated. She said it’s likely she will file a series of motions to suppress that evidence, along with DNA evidence she wants tossed out as well.
The public defender’s office also argued for a change of venue, claiming that both Aspen newspapers have provided exhaustive coverage of case, making it difficult to seat an impartial jury.
Boyd denied that motion, but said he will revisit it if an issue comes up during jury selection.
Boyd scheduled a hearing for Monday to schedule a new trial, and address other motions from the defense team, who also have argued for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
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