News in Brief
Officer moving on after 20 yearsFor the past two decades, convicted criminals in the Roaring Fork Valley have known the tough love of probation officer Jon Ezequelle, who is calling it quits in one week.”He knows how to help people while keeping the community safe,” said assistant district attorney Gail Nichols. “He’s dedicated and knows how the system can best work for people.”Ezequelle, 69, started in community corrections at age 48, after years in the Marines, as a congressional aide in D.C., and as an elementary school teacher. He said his personal experience with the criminal justice system – both of his sons have had drug problems and multiple felonies in the past – helped him have more patience and love as he dealt with tough cases.
Ezequelle started juvenile intensive supervision probation in 1994 to keep youths out of detention facilities, working in the program for eight years. He said empowering even a few young people each year to turn their lives around was a significant driver in the job.”If you can bring people to the point where it becomes internal motivation and internal control, then that’s when people change,” Ezequelle said. “If I claimed 20 percent, I’d be exaggerating. One or two kids a year was wonderful.”When he first came out to Colorado in the early ’80s, he started skydiving nearly immediately. But after being one of three survivors of a midair collision in which 15 people died, Ezequelle took up hang-gliding because it was safer.He said he is going to take some rafting trips and get a license to substitute teach during his retirement. First, he and his wife are planning to go to Miami Beach, Fla., for a few weeks and then take a motorcycle trip in April.
Sam Barns, who has been working in 9th Judicial District corrections for more than a year, will take Ezequelle’s place as Pitkin County’s probation officer. Barns has a bachelor’s in justice systems from Truman State in Missouri and a master’s in correctional justice from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.Assistant DA refiles felony chargesAssistant district attorney Gail Nichols filed a motion Thursday to reinstate felony charges against Jeffrey Key.
The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges Dec. 19 after the alleged victim returned to her native Russia.Nichols said the victim has returned to Aspen and would like to go forward with the case. She said she believes 9th District Judge James Boyd will allow the prosecution to go ahead with refiling the charges.According to police reports, Key stole credit cards, which he used to withdraw $1,000 from Alpine Bank. He still faces misdemeanor charges of stealing a sunroof, knife and cell phone. The prosecution also added a further charge of driving under revocation. The misdemeanor charges stem from allegedly stolen objects found in his car during a traffic stop. According to court papers, he was also driving with a revoked driver’s license.Key was not available for comment because he is in jail on a parole hold. Conviction on any charge could mean a parole violation or the resumption of a five-year suspended sentence from a previous felony, or both.