Morse has done his time
Nathan Morse, one of a dozen local young men implicated in a recent crime spree in Aspen and Snowmass Village, got out of the Pitkin County Jail Monday after serving 84 days while awaiting trial.
Morse, 18, was sentenced to four years of probation and 90 days in jail, along with 200 hours of “useful community service” and an order from 9th Judicial District Judge J.E. DeVilbiss that he return to live with his parents. Because he had served 84 days in jail already, and was due some time off for good behavior, he was released from jail yesterday after the sentencing hearing.
He is the first of the defendants to be sentenced for crimes committed late last summer and early fall. Morse, who was originally charged with stealing a Jeep from near the Aspen Club and with taking part in a Sept. 20 burglary of a Twining Flats home, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary. He was not implicated in the armed robberies at Clark’s Market and the Aspen Alps in Aspen, and at The Village Market in Snowmass.
The sentence recommended by the district attorney was two years in jail followed by probation.
As part of the sentence, DeVilbiss also ordered that Morse submit to 90 days of electronic home monitoring, meaning Morse will only be allowed away from home while he is working or performing his community service duties.
The sentence was pronounced after 90 minutes of testimony from friends, relatives and the prosecuting and defense attorneys in the case, as well as an impassioned plea for leniency from the defendant himself.
Statements from friends and relatives painted a picture of a young man of above-average intelligence and athletic ability, who became involved with a group of unsavory characters.
He also was a young man who found himself at odds with his parents and who, after graduating high school last June, moved out of his family’s home in Lenado and into housing connected with a job working for the 10th Mountain Hut System.
It was while he was living on his own, Morse said, that he began to drift away from friends and family he had known, and hang around with a new group.
But, he told the judge, he has now realized that “people like Anthony Rizzuto are not my friends … people that flip me off when I try to do the right thing.” Rizzuto, 19, is one of the dozen young men accused of taking part in the crime spree, including the Twining Flats burglary in which Morse confessed his involvement.
Morse said that as his old group of friends moved away to attend college, he turned “toward those people that I thought would accept me … we were on the fringe.”
He said he knew the group was headed for trouble, adding, “I thought, maybe I can make it through to February [when he was scheduled to start college in Vermont]. Maybe I wouldn’t get caught.”
But he was caught when he, Rizzuto and several others drove to Boulder to sell a Jeep Morse had stolen, taking with them a Range Rover allegedly stolen from the Twining Flats home, and were arrested by the Boulder police.
Pointing to his past involvement in local issues, Morse pledged to go to college, earn a degree, and return to become a productive member of the local community.
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The city of Aspen is contributing $1 million to a CDOT project that will see concrete instead of asphalt at the roundabout into town.