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Schutter wants his trial moved

John Colson

Convicted armed robber Stefan Schutter does not want to be tried a second time in front of a panel of Pitkin County jurors.

Schutter, 18, through his team of Denver attorneys, has filed a motion for a change of venue for his second trial on charges that he was one of a dozen local teens who committed a series of armed robberies, burglaries and car thefts in the summer of 1999.

Judge Thomas Ossola of Glenwood Springs could rule on the motion by early next week, according to a court official.

Schutter is one of the last two of the dozen local teens to be tried in the multi-layered cases arising from the crime spree in Aspen and Snowmass Village last year. The other is Anthony Rizzuto, who faces other charges in cases not directly connected to the crime spree.

Schutter is to be sentenced on Monday for his role in the armed robbery at Snowmass Village Market on Aug. 19, 1999. He was convicted on charges of aggravated armed robbery and theft, but was acquitted on a charge of assaulting the store clerk.

He faces a second trial, scheduled for Jan. 9 at the Pitkin County Courthouse, on charges that he took part in an earlier robbery at Clark’s Market in Aspen on Aug. 5.

But Schutter’s attorneys, Lisa Wayne and Jeralyn Merritt of Denver, have filed a motion asking the judge to move the location because they feel their client cannot receive a fair trial in Pitkin County.

In the motion, filed on Nov. 15, the attorneys argue that because Schutter has already been convicted in one case, and the sentencing for that case is being held less than two months before the second trial, it is likely that a potential pool of jurors will remember the sentencing when they are called to jury duty.

The motion also argues that Schutter’s case, along with the other cases stemming from the crime spree in August and Sep-tember of 1999, was subjected to “massive media coverage” that was prolonged and intensive.

The motion also refers to the fact that obtaining a fair trial can be particularly difficult in small towns, where a large percentage of the residents know each other, as well as the victims and the accused in criminal cases.

Defense attorney Wayne, reached at her home on Tuesday, said that under court rules attorneys are not permitted to request any particular place for a trial to be held.

“I don’t know much about Meeker,” she said, referring to the town in Rio Blanco County that is within the 9th Judicial District and often is chosen as the site for trials moved out of Pitkin County.

But in general, she said, there has been so much news coverage and so much talk in the community concerning Schutter, his case and his prior conviction that “As fair as Aspen people would want to be … I just don’t know how they could erase it from their minds.”

According to Jim Bradford, clerk of the combined courts for the 9th Judicial District in Glenwood Springs, it is customary for attorneys to make suggestions in their motions concerning possible sites for relocating trials.

Lacking such suggestions, he said, Judge Ossola will decide whether to keep the trial in the 9th Judicial District or move it somewhere else. He said the judge may make his decision on the motion as early as Nov. 27, the day he will be in Aspen to sentence Schutter in the Village Market case.


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