Teen beating cases consolidated
The teen defendants accused of attempted murder for allegedly beating a young runaway with a golf club on Independence Pass and leaving her to die had their cases consolidated Monday in Pitkin County District Court.Cinthia Romero, 16, of Bakersfield, Calif., sat with her attorney, Arnie Mordkin of Snowmass, during yesterday’s brief hearing. Her co-defendant and one-time boyfriend, Jaime Castro, 17, of Aspen, stood with public defender Jim Conway and an interpreter in the gallery behind the prosecution’s table. Conway was filling in for fellow public defender Greg Greer, who is handling Castro’s defense.Last October, the suspects allegedly tried to kill the 16-year-old girl who ran away with Romero. She had told them she wanted to return home and would tell on Romero for running away, according to the arrest warrant. The victim, who was hospitalized for two weeks with two skull fractures and other injuries, told police she and Romero had come to Aspen because the suspect had met Castro online.Castro and Romero were arrested in Virginia.Mordkin said after the hearing that consolidating the cases is not an unusual step. He said he and the public defender’s office continue to talk to each another.”We’re not at loggerheads, we talk to each other,” he said. “Unless and until there is some obvious disagreement … we’re not going to disclose to each other something that our clients are saying that is contrary to what the other one says.”The cases were consolidated, but they are still “two separate cases” with two separate lawyers, Mordkin said. “But the proceedings will be at the same time. It saves time, and if something was to occur in one of them that might be dispositive in the other one, it all happens at one time. It’s easy that way.”Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols told Judge James Boyd that progress was being made toward a pretrial resolution. Boyd set the preliminary hearing, at which the prosecution must present enough evidence to warrant a trial, for April 18.Also on a busy Monday in district court:• The lawyer for the local teen accused of vehicular homicide in the car accident that killed Aspen High student Alex Terral was granted a continuance.Clad in a dark suit and tie, Dustin Hite, 17, sat with his parents and attorneys, Katharine Sullivan and Fredic Winocur. He is charged with causing the accident that killed Terral, 17, on June 24 outside Aspen.Winocur told Boyd that an “overhead aerial photograph [of the accident site] is key to the prosecution’s case,” but that the defense’s expert had just received it and needed some time to analyze it. He also said he hopes the case can be resolved before a trial. Winocur later said the defense would like more time to consider whether to ask for a jury trial.Deputy District Attorney Nichols opposed the continuance motion, saying the victim’s father has told her that the delays are very upsetting to the family.”It’s important that we move forward to a trial,” she said.”Everyone has an interest in this moving forward,” Boyd agreed.He granted the continuance, but said further delays wouldn’t be as routinely approved. Hite’s next court appearance is March 7.• The lawyer for an Aspen man who missed his arraignment in December on charges that he gave false information to police about his sex offender status said the suspect was hospitalized at the time.Christian Gamblin, 43, is charged with three felony counts of failure to register as a sex offender. He was convicted in 1991 in California of “lewd or lascivious acts with a child under 14 years of age,” the arrest warrant states.The recent charges stem from his alleged failure to report his correct license plate numbers and the number for his employer in Kansas.Monday, Nichols told Boyd that the suspect had worked at this year’s X Games as a security guard in violation of his bond terms. The district attorney’s office decided not to pursue charges, but “he just can’t accept jobs where he will be put in such close contact with people under 18,” Nichols said.The judge warned Gamblin to not have any contact with minors and set his next hearing for March 7.• The man charged with stealing prescription painkillers from the home of an Aspen Valley Hospital official in December pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.Charles Nitze, 20, apologized to the family of John Sarpa, chairman of AVH’s board of directors, in pleading guilty to attempted criminal trespass. He was sentenced to two years’ probation and ordered to pay $636 in restitution to the Sarpas.• A man riding in a car that contained 20 small packages of cocaine pleaded guilty to possession of more than a gram of the drug.Isabel Orellano Santos, 22, had five bindles of cocaine on his person, according to court testimony, after he and three others were stopped after a hit-and-run accident on South Monarch Street last February.He was sentenced to three years of probation and must submit to random drug testing, along with completing a “living in America course” and 100 hours of community service.• The suspect who badly beat an Aspen cocaine dealer in his home after he was turned away pleaded guilty to assault and criminal trespass.Scott Dale assaulted Christopher Cox in March because the latter refused to sell the former anything, according to court testimony. Cox incurred $36,000 in medical bills stemming from a broken jaw and other lacerations. He later pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute.Dale has suffered from a lifelong battle with substance abuse, according to court testimony, and has entered drug rehabilitation. If Dale fails in his rehabilitation, he will face eight years in prison, Nichols said. In addition to drug counseling and four years of probation, Dale must pay nearly $38,000 in restitution.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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