Basalt robbery suspect wants case in juvenile court | AspenTimes.com

Basalt robbery suspect wants case in juvenile court

A suspect in the armed robbery of a Basalt homeowner is fighting the 5th Judicial District Attorney Office's efforts to prosecute him as an adult.

Rafael Vega-Sanchez, 18, of Rifle, has filed a motion to have his case heard in the juvenile court system, according to Deputy District Attorney Lisa Hunt. Vega-Sanchez was 17 years old when the armed robbery occurred last November. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 3 to determine if he will be dealt with in the adult or juvenile court system, Hunt said.

The District Attorney's Office has filed four felonies against Vega-Sanchez for his alleged role in the home invasion — one charge of burglary, one with explosives or weapons, another; charge of burglary and two charges of theft, according to a clerk with Eagle County Combined Courts. Vega-Sanchez is being held in Eagle County Jail on $100,000 bond.

Another suspect in the case, Michael Hawkins, 26, of Parachute, was sentenced Tuesday to 24 years in prison for charges connected to the robbery. He pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery and conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary. During a brief statement to Eagle County District Judge Fred Gannett, Hawkins identified Vega-Sanchez as the man who held the robbery victim at gunpoint.

Police said Hawkins and another man entered the victim's home on Riverside Drive after breaking down the door. They allegedly believed no one was home at the time, according to authorities.

According to Deputy District Attorney John Franks, the victim — a woman in her 70s — came out of her bedroom after taking a shower and encountered the two men in her house. One man held her at gunpoint while the other looked for valuables. When they were ready to flee, they allegedly ordered the victim into the shower and warned her not to call police or they would return to kill her, according to the Basalt Police Department report.

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Hawkins said in his hearing Tuesday he didn't know that Vega-Sanchez had a gun. He claimed he saved the victim's life.

"When he put her inside the shower and he basically was going to shoot her, I told him not to," Hawkins said.

Gannett said Hawkins' story doesn't have any validity. However, he said if Hawkins provides the District Attorney's Office with information that helps prosecute the two other suspects, he would reconsider Hawkins' sentence.

The other suspect in the case is Sergio Sanchez, 25, of Rifle, who is also in custody. He has pleaded not guilty to felony charges related to the armed robbery.

Franks said authorities believe that one of the two men was in the house with Hawkins while the other was driving the getaway vehicle. He declined to say if authorities believe Hawkins' story that Vega-Sanchez was the man handling the gun in the house. Details will emerge in court proceedings, he said.

scondon@aspentimes.com