Judge upholds some charges in alleged Aspen assault
ASPEN – A district judge ruled Thursday there is enough evidence to try a Carbondale man for the alleged sexual assault and kidnapping of an Aspen woman, and the assault of a police officer.
But Judge James Boyd dismissed two drug-related felony counts, on the basis that the charges’ wording was not consistent with the evidence presented by the prosecution.
Boyd’s ruling, delivered after he heard nearly six hours of testimony over the course of two days, set the stage for Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun, 21, to enter a plea at a later date.
If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for what chief deputy district attorney Arnold Mordkin called a “vicious rape.” Gonzalez-Loujun, who is in the Pitkin County jail on $250,000 bond, attended both days of the hearing. The alleged victim was not present either day.
On Wednesday the prosecution presented witnesses who testified about the alleged sexual attacks on the woman, which occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 17 outside of Aspen’s Centennial Apartments. 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.
On Thursday the prosecution focused on Gonzalez-Loujun’s alleged assault of Aspen police officer Leon Murray, and the subsequent arrest and alleged discovery of 13 bindles of cocaine on the suspect’s person by Sgt. Robert Fabrocini.
Murray said he reported to the Centennial area after fielding a call of sexual assault. He noticed the suspect walking along a nearby street, some 15 feet away from another woman who was a friend of the alleged victim. The woman, Murray testified, was looking for her friend, who had taken refuge at another person’s apartment after the alleged assaults.
“It appeared the female did not want anything to do with the male,” Murray said.
Murray said he became suspicious of the suspect, then approached him and asked him to provide identification. Gonzalez-Loujun opened his wallet but would not produce an ID, Murray said. “I’m becoming very concerned he’s about to take flight and run away from me.”
At that point the suspect and Murray got into a scuffle, the officer testified, claiming that Gonzalez-Loujun struck him in the lower left jaw.
“My head snaps back, my glasses, they fell off, and my flashlight falls off,” Murray said.
Murray said the two “went up and down to the ground several times,” but the officer was able to call for backup.
“I was losing the battle, but I was rescued,” Murray said, adding that he had cuts to his forehead and injured his jaw, neck and back.
“I went for a ride,” he said.
Fabrocini testified he was able to take down Gonzalez-Loujun and arrest him. As for Murray, Fabrocini said: “He was in a daze. It looked like he got his bell rung … His left jaw was red and puffy.”
Fabrocini also searched a pouch the suspect had been carrying in his back pocket, finding 14 bindles containing what he believed was cocaine. Subsequent tests administered on the substance confirmed his suspicions, Fabrocini said.
Gonzalez-Loujun’s attorney, public defender Stephen McCrohan, questioned the method of Fabrocini’s search, and also tried to cast doubt regarding the extent of Murray’s injuries.
Boyd, however, ruled that there was enough evidence for Gonzalez-Loujun to be charged with second-degree assault of a peace officer, as well as the sexual assault and second-degree kidnapping charges of the alleged victim.
By dropping the drug charges, however, the judge noted that the count of unlawful possession of a controlled substance of more than 1 gram called it a schedule-four drug. But the drug in which Gonzalez-Loujun was charged with having – cocaine – is a schedule-two substance, Boyd noted.
Gonzalez-Loujun also faced the charge of unlawful distribution of a controlled substance, but Boyd concluded he heard nothing in the hearing that demonstrated the suspect – who was found with allegedly 15 1/2 grams of cocaine – had been selling the contraband.
“There is no evidence at all that any sale occurred,” Boyd said. “And there is nothing in the charge of an intent to sell.”
Mordkin did not contest Boyd’s dismissals.
“I agree with the court,” Mordkin said. “I inadvertently wrote those two counts.”
Even so, he said he will file an amended complaint with the proper charges. McCrohan said the only way Mordkin could file new charges is if there is new evidence to support them.
Before testimony began Thursday, McCrohan asked the judge to prohibit the public – in this case, two newspaper reporters -from attending the hearing. He argued that the media coverage would taint a jury pool.
“We’re already facing the issue of whether we’ll have a trial here,” he said.
At the end, though, Boyd ruled that the hearing could be open to the public.
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