July 4th fight results in jail
Aspenite Selig Haarklou, the instigator of at least one brawl in Aspen last Fourth of July, was sentenced to 30 days in jail on Tuesday.
The sentence was handed down by Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely after Haarklou agreed to a plea bargain, which covered not only the case involving the brawl but four other cases pending before the court.
He pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and criminal mischief in the July 4th fight case, and to allowing an unlicensed person to operate a vehicle in an unrelated traffic case. Three other traffic cases were dropped, and he will be allowed to retain his driver’s license as part of the plea bargain.
Haarklou, 22, was allowed to remain free until this morning, when he was scheduled to report to the Pitkin County Jail and begin serving his sentence, which includes provisions for work release and a judge’s order that he perform 60 hours of public service by March 13, 2001, and undergo alcohol rehabilitation classes.
The sentencing hearing was somewhat unusual for county court, in that it included testimony from a victim of the brawls as well as statements from Haarklou’s nominal stepfather and a friend who had witnessed part of the night’s events last July.
The two sets of testimony painted markedly different pictures of what went on that night and of what kind of personality Haarklou has.
According to police, Haarklou and several friends had been drinking and tried to crash a party at 135 West Hopkins Ave. that night.
An argument ensued in which drinks apparently were thrown by at least two individuals, according to police, and Haarklou reportedly got in a fight that drew in several of the party-goers before he was ejected. During the fight, party attendee Jesse Davis was bitten on the finger, requiring multiple stitches.
As Davis sat in a car waiting to go to the hospital, witnesses said Haarklou reappeared brandishing a golf club. He smashed the window of the car, hitting Davis, and at one point the club struck another man in the face, witnesses said. Haarklou then was essentially overpowered by others at the party and beaten up badly enough that he, too, was taken to the hospital.
The third phase of the party started after both young men had gone to the hospital, when a group of youths believed to be Haarklou’s friends showed up at the house and beat up several people found outside and inside the house. Police are still seeking those involved in this part of the evening’s activities.
Witness Lisa Davis (Jesse’s wife) told the court that the battles left behind “a lot of fresh wounds, still a lot of scared people in this town. I’m quite nervous, still.”
She said Haarklou had shoved her and seemed poised to hit her when her husband stepped in, and she accused Haarklou of acting in a “premeditated” way in returning to the party with the golf club.
She also claimed that Haarklou had subsequently challenged Jesse Davis to a fight and had threatened them both, saying, “After the court date, you and your girlfriend better watch out.”
But witness Matt Axtell, who was walking by on Hopkins Avenue that night, said it was the party-goers who precipitated the initial fight, explaining that one threw a drink at Haarklou and attacked him when he tried to walk away. There was no testimony concerning the second and third phases of the fight.
Assistant District Attorney Kate Sullivan asked the judge to send Haarklou to jail for 90 days, saying that he had a history of underage drinking, theft and traffic offenses that should not go unpunished.
“Let him pay society and this community back for what he has done,” she said.
The judge took the middle ground, sentencing Haarklou to 75 days in jail but suspending 45 of them, as long as he completes the other conditions laid down as part of the sentence.
“I think the judge was extremely fair,” said defense attorney Gary Wright, who said he has known Haarklou for years.
“I think the judge gave him an opportunity to show that the community can trust Selig and he can be a valuable community member,” added Murray Cunningham, Haarklou’s nominal stepfather.
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Just in time for Halloween, the Pitkin County Board of Health voted 4-2 to reduce the size of informal gatherings from 10 to five for at least the next two weeks starting Friday. According to the public health director, officials are currently investigating 11 outbreaks in Pitkin County.