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Schutter trial starts today

John Colson

Stefan Schutter, accused of being part of a group of teenagers who pulled off an armed robbery in Snowmass Village last summer, goes on trial today in Aspen.

This is the first in a series of trials concerning the now-infamous “crime spree” that took place in Aspen and Snowmass last year, allegedly conducted by a group of young men who have known each other for years.

Nine of those young men have pleaded guilty to involvement in the crimes. Three remaining suspects – Schutter, Anthony Rizzuto and Thomas Colver – are facing a series of trials set for late this year and early next year.

Jury selection in Schutter’s trial is scheduled to start this morning, and may last all day, according to Deputy District Attorney Lawson Wills. Wills, who normally prosecutes trials in Aspen, is not trying this case. Both he and Judge J.E. DeVilbiss were taken off the case, reportedly because of prior involvement with Schutter when he was in juvenile judicial proceedings.

The case is being tried by 9th Judicial District Chief Judge Thomas Ossola, and special prosecutor John Clune of the Eagle County District Attorney’s office.

According to police, Schutter, now 18, was one of three local teens who broke into the Village Market in Snowmass on Aug. 19, 1999, pistol-whipped a clerk, and got away with approximately $11,000. The three wore masks and could not be identified by the clerk.

Two other teens, Moses Greengrass and William “Wade” Hammond, both pleaded guilty to taking part in the robbery and were sent to prison. Both of them are expected to testify for the prosecution against Schutter, as a condition of plea bargains they made with the district attorney’s office.

Schutter was also tied to an armed robbery two weeks earlier at Clark’s Market in Aspen, through statements made by some of the others involved in the string of robberies, burglaries and car thefts in Aspen last year.

Two of those who named Schutter, Jacob Richards and Cody Wille, also are expected to testify in the trial.

In statements made last year, Schutter’s original attorney, Scott Robinson of Denver, said Richards and Wille may have “substituted” Schutter’s name to conceal the identity of a person they want to protect.

Robinson claimed Schutter wasn’t part of any “ring” of friends with the other participants.

“This is not Oliver Twist,” said Robinson, referring to the Dickens’ classic. “This is not Fagan and his gang. Just because people are implicating him doesn’t mean he was involved.”

Robinson is no longer representing Schutter, who now has two new attorneys. The reason for Robinson’s removal from the case is not known.


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