Aspen bartender fails to make court date; arrest warrants issued
September 18, 2013
Two arrest warrants were issued Monday for Aspen bartender Peter Nardi after he failed to show up for his arraignment proceeding in Pitkin County District Court on sexual-assault and bond-violation charges.
At the start of the hearing, his attorney, John P. Van Ness, addressed Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols, saying he did not know where Nardi was or why he didn't show up to enter a plea in his case. Also, the defense attorney filed two motions with the court seeking to withdraw as Nardi's counsel. The content of those motions was not immediately available Monday, and Van Ness did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Nardi, 51, did not return an Aspen Times phone message seeking comment. He has maintained his innocence on the felony sexual-assault charge in interviews with both Aspen newspapers.
He was arrested April 6 by Aspen police on a felony count of sexual assault that carries eight years to life in state prison. Nichols initially set his bond at $400,000, but at a hearing three days later, Aspen prosecutor Andrea Bryan asked the judge to slash the bond to just $2,500 based on new findings.
The alleged victim, Nardi's ex-girlfriend, told police that Nardi was in her apartment unit when she arrived home at 12:40 a.m. on April 6. She alleged that Nardi then took her captive and forced water down her throat, beat her, covered her with a pillow, shoved his underwear down her throat, sexually assaulted her and threatened to kill her if she called the police. Later that day, Aspen police, after being contacted by the woman, arrested Nardi as he was driving west on Main Street.
In an affidavit for a warrantless arrest, police officer Terry Leitch said he noticed a bruise on the left side of the accuser's jaw; bruising on both of her forearms, her left wrist, right elbow and upper right arm; and a small cut on her right hand's middle finger. The woman complained of pain and moved "very slowly and tentatively," Leitch wrote.
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Because Nardi did not show up in court Monday, Nichols set his bond amount at $100,000 for the charge of failure to appear on the felony and $5,000 for the charge of failure to appear on the bond violation. Nardi allegedly violated his original bond conditions by drinking at the J-Bar on May 31; he was arrested on that charge on June 12, his birthday.
Van Ness said in court that he thought Nardi might be in Denver and that he felt the new $100,000 bond was too high. He also said that a separate warrant for Nardi's arrest was issued last week but did not specify the reason behind it. Following Monday's full day of court proceedings, Bryan said she could not comment on whether a different warrant was issued last week for Nardi's arrest.
Nichols said that Van Ness' motion to withdraw as Nardi's counsel would be taken up whenever Nardi appears in court next.
In other District Court proceedings Monday:
Nichols agreed to a new bond agreement for accused Snowmass Village burglar Kelsey Dean Vasten, 21. When he and another man were arrested Sept. 8 following a slew of vehicle and apartment break-ins the morning of Sept. 6, Nichols set his cash-surety bond at $5,000. On Monday, public defender Sara Steele emphasized Vasten's numerous ties to the community and lack of a criminal record. Nichols agreed to Vasten's release on a personal-recognizance bond but set an amount of $10,000 should he fail to make his next court appearance on Oct. 7.
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