Motion seeks dismissal of carbon monoxide indictment
December 6, 2010
ASPEN – A court motion filed Friday seeks the dismissal of four criminal charges against a Pitkin County building inspector linked by a grand jury to the Thanksgiving 2008 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of a Denver family of four.
Attorneys Gerald Goldstein and James Jenkins’ motion claims that the statute of limitations had expired by the time a Pitkin County grand jury indicted Brian Pawl, 46, of Basalt on four misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment. Because of that, the indictment against Pawl should be quashed and dismissed, contends the motion.
Pawl was one of three local men indicted in the deaths of Caroline Lofgren, 42, her husband, Parker, 39, and their two children, Owen, 10, and Sophie, 8. The family was staying at a home located at 10 Popcorn Lane, about 3 1/2 miles east of Aspen. They had won a stay at the home at an auction held at their school.
Also criminally charged were Erik Peltonen, 68, of Basalt, and Roaring Fork Plumbing and Heating owner Marlin Brown, 57, of Glenwood Springs, who both face four felony counts of criminally negligent homicide and four misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment. Peltonen, who is now retired, inspected the house when he was a city of Aspen employee.
All three defendants are all scheduled to be arraigned Monday in Pitkin County District Court.
Monday’s hearing comes after an arraignment scheduled for Oct. 15 was postponed so defense attorneys could review discovery that encompasses more than “8,000 pages of documents and transcripts as well as three full computer disks of photographs and video,” court papers say.
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Transcripts from the grand jury proceedings, which began in July 2009, are closed to the public, so it has been unclear precisely what criminal roles the three are alleged to have had in the fatalities.
Pawl’s recent motion, however, claims that he should not be facing charges in the first place. That’s because the statue of limitations for the class-three misdemeanor charges he faces is 18 months; the grand jury returned the indictment against Pawl on July 22, 2010.
The indictment says Pawl’s alleged infractions occurred “on or between January 1, 2004, and January 1, 2006,” the latter date being “at least four years and seven months after Pawl allegedly committed the crimes,” Friday’s motion says.
“It is evident from the face of the indictment returned in this case that the alleged offenses are barred by the applicable statue of limitations,” according to Pawl’s motion.
Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin declined to comment Friday, saying he had not yet read the motion.
The Pitkin County government has agreed to fund the criminal defense of Pawl and Peltonen, who is a retired Aspen building inspector.
Brown is represented by Grand Junction attorney Colleen B. Scissors; Peltonen has hired Denver lawyer Abraham Hutt.