Old Snowmass robber sentenced to 7 years
July 2, 2002
A man who broke into an Old Snowmass home and attempted to rob its occupants at gunpoint has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
El Jebel resident Steven Lynn Elliott, 25, was arrested in early March when a local woman called police to report that a man with a gun had kicked down the door to her home and assaulted her husband. When officers arrived at the residence, a caretaker’s unit at 11000 Snowmass Creek Rd., they learned that one of the victims had defended himself and hit the suspect on the head with his own gun before the suspect fled the scene in a black Chevrolet Blazer.
Less than half an hour later, police pulled over a Blazer driven by Elliott. He was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital for treatment for a head wound before he and his passenger, Carbondale resident Zane Stahl, were taken into custody.
Police later determined that Stahl had not participated in the break-in. He had accepted a ride to work from Elliott the morning of the attempted robbery and had been sitting in the Blazer alone while the crime occurred.
Elliott was charged with first-degree burglary, menacing and assault. However, a plea agreement offered by prosecutors in May allowed Elliott to plead guilty to attempted aggravated robbery, a Class IV felony, and a charge of “crime of violence.”
Elliott appeared in Pitkin County District Court on Monday with the knowledge that, because of his plea agreement, he would receive no more than 16 years and no less than five years in prison for the crime. Assistant District Attorney Katie Sullivan requested a midlevel sentence for the defendant, saying that though Elliott claimed the crime was not premeditated, evidence found in his Blazer proved otherwise.
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A search of Elliott’s car after his arrest turned up two handguns and a pair of pantyhose, which the victims of the break-in said their assailant had worn as a disguise. Though Elliott said he had believed the caretaker’s unit would be empty when he broke the door down, District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss questioned his account of the crime.
“I don’t understand why he bothered to disguise himself if he thought nobody would be there,” DeVilbiss wondered aloud.
Sullivan also debated Elliott’s statement. The prosecutor said the victims’ employers, who own the caretaker’s unit and the surrounding property, have “felt targeted themselves” since the incident. Their fears were supported when police found a diagram of their property, including directions to the caretaker’s unit, in Elliott’s car after his arrest.
“The fact that this defendant had gone so far as to get a drawing was of great concern to them,” Sullivan said.
Elliott told investigators shortly after his arrest that he had broken into the home in search of “weed and money.” The defendant and his attorney began Monday’s sentencing hearing with a request for the shortest sentence possible to allow Elliott to seek help for what he called a “serious” drug problem.
A letter presented to the court on Elliott’s behalf blamed the defendant’s crime on his drug dependence, stating that “his behavior is a direct result of his addictions.” Elliott supported the claim in a presentence report prepared by his probation officer, calling himself and his addiction “society’s worst nightmare.”
Elliott’s attorney, public defender Jim Conway, said that his client had experimented with everything from cocaine to methamphetamines during his many years of addiction. Conway suggested Pier One, a drug treatment program in Denver, in order to help Elliott with his struggle.
“To me, this is someone, your honor, who needs to do something about that problem,” Conway said.
DeVilbiss seemed skeptical about Pier One’s involvement in Elliott’s case.
“Pier One has a success rate that approaches zero, it’s so tough,” he said.
DeVilbiss ended the hearing by accepting the recommendations of Elliott’s probation officer and sentencing the defendant to seven years in prison. Now that Elliott has been sentenced to an extended prison sentence, Conway can request a case review in 90 days to consider an assignment to the Pier One program, added DeVilbiss.