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Special prosecutor sought in Aspen drug case

Wyatt Haupt Jr.
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Alleged drug dealer Devin Schutter of Aspen wants a special prosecutor to handle his cocaine distribution case in part because of a perceived unfair advantage for the prosecution that could prevent a fair trial.

Public defender Stephen McCrohan filed a motion last week with Pitkin County District Court to disqualify Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin from the case. That, if granted, would lead to a special prosecutor being appointed in the case.

The 11-page motion also seeks to disqualify any prosecutor from the 9th Judicial District from trying the matter. Mordkin heads the District Attorney’s Office in Aspen.

The argument to remove Mordkin from the case hinges largely on his former role as a defense attorney, in which at one time he represented Emily Billing. She is the former girlfriend of Schutter, and a potential witness in his case.

Billing was arrested in March 2008 for distribution of cocaine. Mordkin was appointed to represent Billing, who later pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. She was given a three-year deferred sentence in July.

Billing is also a listed victim in a 2007 stalking case against Schutter, and 2008 violation of a protection order incident. McCrohan claims because of her former relationship with Schutter there is a good chance Mordkin “likely gained confidential information from Ms. Billing that he can now use against Mr. Schutter, gaining an unfair advantage,” the motion states.

Mordkin declined to comment on the motion.

The filing marks the second time in as many weeks that the defense has sought to boot Mordkin from the case. McCrohan filed a motion April 9 with Pitkin County District Court that calls for sanctions because of a number of comments made to the media by Mordkin.

McCrohan claims that the comments, which appeared in The Aspen Times and Aspen Daily News, are “highly prejudicial” and “will make it very difficult if not impossible to seat a fair and impartial jury in Pitkin County.”

The statements, which McCrohan characterizes as “extrajudicial,” are related to potential prison sentences in two cases for Schutter. One case is based in Aspen, while the other is in Fremont County.

As a result of the statements the motion requests the court impose one or two sanctions: dismissal of all habitual counts and/or “remove Arnold Mordkin from Mr. Schutter’s cases.”

The habitual counts are related to prior felonies, of which Schutter has been convicted.

Schutter, who was arrested Feb. 20, 2008 at his mother’s house in Aspen, faces multiple counts ranging from drug possession with intent to distribute to probation violations in earlier cases.

If convicted on all counts, Schutter could be sentenced to hundreds of years in prison.

whaupt@aspentimes.com


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