Jury finds Basalt man guilty of attack on woman in bar bathroom
A Pitkin County jury on Monday found a Basalt man guilty of attempted sexual assault, false imprisonment and indecent exposure for attacking an Aspen visitor in the bathroom of a downtown bar last summer.
Robert Marlow, 41, now faces possible life in prison when he is sentenced June 21.
The jury of seven women and five men spent nearly all of Friday afternoon and all of Monday morning deliberating before coming back with the verdict just before 1 p.m. In addition to the findings of guilt on all counts, jurors also found that Marlow used “force of violence” in attempting to sexually assault the then-23-year-old woman.
That finding is particularly significant because it means Marlow is guilty of a higher level felony and will face 2-to-6 years to life in prison and 10 years to life on parole when and if he’s released from prison, said Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham, who prosecuted the case. Marlow would have been looking at between 1 and 3 years in prison if the jury had found him guilty of attempted sexual assault without the force of violence finding.
Indecent exposure and false imprisonment are misdemeanors for which Marlow can receive up to 18 months and up to 364 days respectively.
The Pitkin County Probation Department will conduct both a pre-sentence investigation and psycho-sexual evaluation prior to the June sentencing date.
Attorneys in the case spent almost as much time picking the jury as they did presenting evidence in the case. Jury selection took all of April 5 and half of the next day. Testimony and arguments in the case occurred Wednesday afternoon, Thursday morning and Friday morning.
The first witness to testify was the now-24-year-old victim in the case, a resident of Washington, D.C., who told jurors she had been coming to visit Aspen her entire life because her parents met here.
She described a night out July 6 with a family friend that finished up at Aspen Public House about 1 a.m. July 7. The woman said she’d had two glasses of wine the entire night, ordered water at the Public House bar when she arrived, then went to use the bathroom about 15 minutes later.
She said she first went to the women’s bathroom, but when she opened the door she encountered Marlow standing inside with his pants unbuttoned. She described being slightly embarrassed, apologized and shut the door.
The woman said she decided to use the men’s bathroom immediately across from the women’s bathroom on the assumption that it was a one-toilet facility like the women’s room and likely had a locking door. When she opened the door, however, she noticed it was set up differently with a urinal and a stall and said she hesitated a moment while deciding if she should use that bathroom.
That was when she said a clearly intoxicated Marlow came “barging” through the door, backed her up against the wall between the urinal and the sink, put his right arm up to block her from leaving and began pulling down his pants and boxers. She said he exposed himself to her at that point.
The woman, who is much smaller than the 6-foot-1, 260 pound Marlow, said she asked him not to do anything to her and to let her go, but he responded, “You’re not going anywhere.” She said she then began screaming, punching and kicking at Marlow and was able to duck under his arm and run out the door to safety.
She later said she thought he would have raped her if she hadn’t been able to get away. A video surveillance camera outside the bathroom recorded her screams and her running away from the bathroom area.
Marlow testified that he’d been drinking and doing cocaine that night and that while he remembered most details, including arriving at Public House, sitting at a table outside the bathroom and getting up to go to the bathroom to do more cocaine, he didn’t remember what occurred inside the bathroom except for the woman screaming.
Marlow is currently being held at the Garfield County Jail, which is housing Pitkin County Jail inmates while county officials make changes to the jail to improve safety.
A district court judge Thursday dismissed the remaining criminal counts against the owner of a Basalt-based chiropractor office who had been under grand-jury indictment for allegedly cooperating with one of his massage therapists accused of sexually assaulting clients.