Rizzuto’s trial is set to begin today
Anthony Rizzuto, accused of taking part in a string of crimes committed by Aspen teens more than a year ago, goes on trial today before a jury in the Pitkin County Courthouse.
Rizzuto, 20, faces charges that he and three others burglarized a house in the Twining Flats neighborhood on Sept. 20, 1999, making off with three shotguns and a Range Rover.
He is charged with two counts of motor vehicle theft and one count each of second-degree burglary, felony theft and conspiracy to commit theft.
Among the witnesses scheduled to testify in the four-day trial are two of the young men who have already been convicted in connection with the crime spree, Moses Greengrass and Jacob Richards. Both men are now serving prison sentences, based on plea bargains they made with the district attorney’s office, and both men are said by police to have been in on the Twining Flats burglary.
Jury selection in Rizzuto’s trial is expected to take most or all of the day today, according to the attorneys involved.
At a pretrial conference Monday, defense attorney Joseph St. Veltri asked about prosecutor Lawson Wills’ plans to base part of his case against Rizzuto on “prior statements” made by Greengrass.
Greengrass, 19, is “expected to decline to testify at trial,” St. Veltri noted, reading from Wills’ motion.
Greengrass refused to testify at the last trial in which he was called as a witness, against a young man Greengrass referred to as his “best friend” – convicted Snowmass Village Market robber Stefan Schutter. Greengrass was cited for contempt of court in that case.
Wills said he did not know for sure if Greengrass would again refuse to testify, but wanted the court’s clear permission to use statements that Greengrass made to police shortly after being arrested last year.
St. Veltri, on Rizzuto’s part, asked the court to allow him to ask the witnesses if they were aware of the possible penalties they faced when they struck plea bargains. Any mention of penalties is normally believed to be prejudicial to a jury.
DeVilbiss said he would issue his rulings on these and other motions this morning, before the jury selection process begins.
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