Second Basalt teen arrested in alleged kidnap plot
BASALT – A second teen was taken into custody Wednesday on suspicion of plotting to kidnap and murder another teen in Basalt, authorities said.
The Basalt Police Department, with assistance from Carbondale police, arrested the 17-year-old Basalt resident Wednesday morning, Basalt Sgt. Stu Curry said. The teen was in Carbondale, where Curry said he believed he was attending school.
He was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping, a third-degree felony, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, a Class 2 felony, Curry said. The Police Department determined the charges after conferring with the Eagle County District Attorney’s Office, Curry said.
The boy was advised of his rights Wednesday morning in Eagle County District Court, and he is in custody in a juvenile facility, according to a spokeswoman for the District Attorney’s Office.
A 15-year-old Basalt boy, who police believe was the instigator of the plot, was taken into custody Friday. He was detained for violating terms of his probation in another matter. He hasn’t been arrested in the alleged kidnapping scheme because he was already in custody, Curry said. The District Attorney’s Office eventually will file formal charges against the 15-year-old, who is also from Basalt, Curry said.
The boys could face charges as adults.
“That’s something we’re looking at with both juveniles, actually,” said Eagle County District Attorney Mark Hurlbert.
The second boy was arrested after Basalt Officer Brian Lemke interviewed both teens and determined that the 17-year-old “was pretty active in the plot,” Curry said. An arrest warrant was approved by a judge Tuesday, he said.
Curry said police didn’t consider the second teen to be a flight risk even after the first was arrested Friday and there was extensive media coverage of the alleged kidnapping and murder plot.
“I don’t think he felt we were going to pursue it to this extent,” Curry said.
The two boys are being held in separate juvenile facilities, the district attorney’s spokeswoman said.
Two other teens from Basalt were involved in the plot to some degree, Curry said. The Basalt Police Department is still investigating and conferring with the district attorney to determine what charges, if any, the other two teens should face.
Police contend that the teens conspired to lure another teen to Arbaney Park in Basalt.
They planned to intimidate him with a replica handgun and beat him with baseball bats, according to a statement previously released by the department. Once the young man was subdued, they planned to bind him in duct tape and place him in the woods near Ruedi Reservoir, where he would starve to death, according to police.
The 15-year-old youth allegedly confessed and described the plan to police. He said he wanted the targeted victim to “suffer,” police said.
The alleged mastermind said he worked on the plot for four weeks. “The juvenile suspect said that he had issues with the victim to be. The juvenile suspect told officers that the issues involved drug dealing and a relationship with a juvenile female,” the police department’s statement said.
Police said the alleged instigator told them he had been working on a plan for four weeks. The alleged plot was foiled when parents of some of the youth involved found a hand-drawn map depicting that some activity was going to take place in Arbaney Park. They turned the information over to authorities and said they suspected a drug deal was planned. Lemke discovered through interviews that the event was really a kidnapping and assault, according to police.
Police say the juveniles involved in the plot have connections to gangs.
Hurlbert said the case is “unusual,” in part because the youth were plotting the assault and abduction for four weeks to great detail. The hand-drawn map shows the positioning of “teams” and a “hit spot” where the assault was supposed to take place.
“We just don’t have any violent crime like this up in the mountains,” Hurlbert said.
Colorado law allows district attorneys to charge 16- and 17-year-olds as adults, Hurlbert said. Juveniles 14 and 15 years of age can be charged only after a transfer hearing is heard by a judge. Issues such as the severity of the alleged crime and prior criminal conduct will be weighed in the decision whether or not to charge them as adults, Hurlbert said.
The stakes are huge for the youth. If they are convicted of the crimes in juvenile court, they can be sentenced to up to two years in a juvenile facility on each count, according to Hurlbert.
If they are tried and convicted as adults, they could be sentenced to 24 years in prison on the conspiracy to commit first-degree murder charge and 16 years for the conspiracy to commit first-degree kidnapping charge, he said.
More than likely, they would be sentenced to Youthful Offenders Service, where they would spend six to seven years in rehabilitation programs, he said. The prison sentences are suspended if the youth successfully complete the program. It’s proven to be highly effective, Hurlbert said.
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