Prescription forgery case ends in not guilty verdict |

Prescription forgery case ends in not guilty verdict

A jury acquitted an Aspen man of forging a prescription for painkillers, and a mistrial was declared on a felony charge he faced in Pitkin County District Court Friday evening.

The jury of seven women and five men found Chap Chapman, 31, not guilty of the misdemeanor, but could not reach a consensus on the felony charge of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and deceit.

Chapman was arrested in March. A pharmacist at Carl’s Pharmacy called police after noticing that Chapman’s prescription was for “80 Percocet,” a powerful painkiller, instead of 30 pills, which is what an Aspen Valley Hospital doctor told the pharmacist he had prescribed. Chapman had undergone knee surgery.

During last week’s trial, he testified that he changed the prescription just after surgery when he was feeling giddy and “out of it” from painkillers and anesthesia. He stood and smiled slightly upon hearing the verdict at 5:30 p.m.

Jurors told Judge Jim Boyd they were deadlocked on the other charge and that they didn’t think further deliberations would result in a decision.

“It is the consensus of the jury that we would not be able to reach a unanimous decision on that count,” the jury’s foreman told the judge.

Boyd accepted the not guilty verdict and declared a mistrial on the other count.

Jurors spent just over 10 hours deliberating the case over two days at the Pitkin County Courthouse.

Juror Ross Ettlin said the case came down to reasonable doubt and Chapman’s state of mind at the time of the forgery, since the defendant never denied having changed the prescription.

“We knew he did it ” he didn’t even argue against that. The whole issue was his state of mind at the time,” Ettlin said.

He said if the prosecution had presented more records from the hospital and testimony from other nurses who interacted with Chapman, it may have been more clear when and why he altered the prescription.

“We were split on the forgery charge at first, and then we decided to let him go because it wasn’t proven beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said. “[Chapman] probably did something stupid and was trying to get away with it, but it just wasn’t proven.”

Prosecutor Lawson Wills said Friday evening that he hasn’t decided if he will attempt to retry the case. He has 90 days to make that decision, but Chapman is due back in court today at 1:30 p.m. to hear Wills’ plans.

Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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