Jury finds driver not guilty
November 17, 2007
ASPEN ” A Pitkin County jury of six on Friday found Christopher Ellison, 44, not guilty of driving while alcohol impaired.
Ellison was driving his pickup truck toward Aspen near Twining Flats at 11:20 p.m. on July 25, 2006 when a sheriff’s deputy stopped him for speeding ” more than 75 mph in a posted 55 mph zone ” and changing lanes with no signal.
When Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Gibson saw two open beer bottles in the car and smelled alcohol on Ellison’s breath, he asked him to step out of the vehicle.
Ellison said, “Oh boy, Tilly,” to his dog when the deputy approached the car, Gibson said.
But Ellison refused a field test, a breathalyzer and a blood test, claiming he had only had four beers over a 17-hour day on a construction site near Ruedi Reservoir.
Ellison appeared to be “confused” by instructions to a roadside sobriety test, then said, “I don’t want to do this” and refused the test, Gibson said.
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“He said he was not impaired,” said defense attorney Chip McCrory. McCrory called Gibson to the stand, and questioned the arrest procedure.
“The bottom line is the defendant had too much to drink and should not have been driving,” Pitkin County Deputy District Attorney Matt Walker said, adding that Ellison declined the test because he had something to hide.
McCrory accused police and Walker of trying to make “the normal appear drunk” and conducting a “substandard investigation.”
After a two-hour deliberation, the jury found Ellison guilty of speeding, but not guilty of driving while impaired.
Charles Agar’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.