Suspect files to move drug trial
November 12, 2007
ASPEN ” The defense attorney for Moses Greengrass has filed a motion requesting a change of venue because of pretrial publicity focused partially on his client’s role in a 1999 teen crime spree.
Greengrass, 26, of Aspen, faces charges of felony possession of more than 25 grams of cocaine and possession with intent to sell. Aspen police arrested him downtown early on the morning of March 23.
Greengrass got out of prison in January after serving seven years for his role as a leader of local teenagers who committed a string of armed robberies in the upper valley. The Aspen Times and other local media have published dozens of articles about the 1999 crime spree.
Defense attorney Garth McCarty claims that the articles have prejudiced the public against Greengrass in the current case.
“Mr. Greengrass’s previous convictions relate to an event that is infamous in Aspen and has resulted in widespread knowledge of and prejudice against Mr. Greengrass,” McCarty wrote in the motion. “The 1999 robberies themselves generated intense interest and prejudice within the Aspen community.”
Further, McCarty has motioned to hold The Aspen Times in contempt of court for publishing a photo of Greengrass while he was in court, wearing the orange clothes required in the Pitkin County Courthouse.
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Aspen Times photographer Paul Conrad took the photo through the window in the door of the courtroom while Greengrass waited for a hearing. Photographers are not allowed in the 9th District Court without permission from the judge. The photo framed Greengrass’ face through wooden bars in the courtroom.
McCarty called publishing the photo “irresponsible, reckless and contemptuous.”
“Perhaps worst of all,” McCarty wrote, “the unauthorized photograph was taken through the wooden bars of the courtroom entryway, giving the illusion that Mr. Greengrass is behind bars.”
District Judge James Boyd already has found that there is enough evidence for a trial and that Greengrass’ arrest was constitutional. McCarty has said Greengrass intends to plead not guilty at the arraignment.
Because of the alleged parole violation, Greengrass cannot go free from jail, even if he could pay the $25,000 bond.
The district attorney’s office must file a response by Nov. 16 on the motion to change venue. A judge will hear oral arguments on the motion to change venue at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 19.
Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is email@example.com.