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Teen suspects face extradition

Chad Abraham

The two teens suspected of beating a girl on Independence Pass with a golf club in October will likely go before a judge in Virginia today for an extradition hearing.Jaime Castro, 17, of Aspen, and Cinthia Romero, 16, of Bakersfield, Calif., both face charges of first-degree attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. The suspects, who will likely be charged as adults, were being held on $100,000 bond.The suspects can fight extradition to Pitkin County or waive the proceeding and be escorted back here. They were apparently living together in Newport News, Va., and were turned in by a roommate.An arrest warrant made public after Romero and Castro were jailed Wednesday sheds light on what police believe happened when the girl was beaten on Oct. 9.Around 8:30 p.m., police received a call “from a Bridgett Nadon at the Aspen Store,” the warrant states. “Nadon reported that she and her husband had picked up a female from the Independence Pass area, and the female had been beaten by two unidentified males.”Two deputies responded to the convenience store and attended to the victim, who was suffering from “heavy bleeding from one side of her head and the back of her head. [She] was also complaining of pain in her neck, right arm and shoulder.”An Aspen police officer interviewed Nadon and her husband, Patrick, who had been driving over the pass when they spotted the girl. They also spotted the suspects, according to the warrant.”The two witnesses stated that they found the female at a wide pull-off just above the area of the highway known as the lower narrows,” the warrant says. “Mr. Nadon said that the female got up from the ground and [then] threw herself to the ground near Mr. Nadon’s vehicle, stating that she had been beaten. Patrick Nadon stated that two males got into a Blazer and drove back toward Aspen.”The victim, a 16-year-old runaway from a Bakersfield foster home, also originally told investigators that her assailants were two men. The warrant says she gave that story to protect the suspects.A deputy spoke with an emergency room doctor at Aspen Valley Hospital, who said she had two skull fractures and had been hit in the jaw, the back, the ribs and her right arm. The doctor said the blows were “consistent with getting hit with a golf club,” according to the arrest warrant.The girl was airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, where over the course of two weeks, investigators were able to get more and different details about the attack.The victim originally told police she had run away from Bakersfield and took a Greyhound bus to Glenwood Springs before hitchhiking to Aspen. She said she had been in town about two weeks before the attack and had been sleeping in parks. On the day of the attack, she said she had been walking around town when she met two men on the Cooper Avenue mall. They offered to buy her a bus ticket since she told them she wanted to go back to California.She gave investigators a detailed description of the men and their vehicle, describing the way they spoke and what they were wearing. But on Oct. 12, new details began to emerge. She told police she had “run away with Romero, but she parted ways with [the suspect] in Santa Ana, Calif.”Later on Oct. 12, police again interviewed her. “[She] agreed to tell the truth, stating she didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. She stated that the story was largely as she had told it, except the two that went up the pass with her were her friend Cindy [Romero] from California and Jaime [Castro],” the report states.The victim told investigators that “she and Cindy came to Aspen to meet up with Jaime,” who Romero had met on the Internet. According to the report, they stayed at the Truscott Place home of Castro’s mother, Santos Castro.”She stated that since Jaime and Cindy were a couple, [she] felt like a third person and that she wasn’t wanted,” the warrant says. “[The victim] told the other two that she would go to police and turn herself in.”Romero, who had run away from her mother’s Bakersfield home, allegedly became upset about being discovered.”Cinthia then complained to Jaime that [the victim] was going to police, prompting Jaime, Cinthia and Jaime’s mother to have a private conversation in Jaime’s bedroom,” the report says. “[The girl] then overheard Cinthia on the phone saying, ‘That’s why I don’t like girls, they have big mouths.’ Cinthia then stated on the phone that she had to go ‘somewhere right now, I’m going to go do it right now.'”The report says the victim was told to get her things because the suspects were going to get her a bus ticket. But Castro allegedly began driving his mother’s sport utility vehicle up the pass and eventually said he was lost.They pulled off the highway and Romero and Castro “exited the car as if to take photographs. Jaime invited [the girl] out of the vehicle to take pictures of the two and she declined,” the report says.The suspects allegedly opened the doors on either side of her and told her they were looking for batteries. Castro pulled the victim from the car, held her hands behind her back and told her not to do anything stupid, the report says.”[The girl] observed that Cinthia and Jaime were now wearing black gloves. Jaime then pulled [her away] from the car, at which time Cinthia walked around to their side of the car with a golf club,” according to the report. “Cinthia then said that she had to do this because she doesn’t want [the victim] to open her mouth.”Romero allegedly hit the girl three times, knocking her down. The suspects discussed whether the victim was still breathing, the report says, before Castro struck her again as she was trying to rise to her feet. At that point the Nadons drove up and rescued her, according to the report.The victim later told police that “at one point during the attack, Cinthia tried to pick [the girl] up, which [she] believes was an attempt to throw her over the side of the cliff,” the report says.The girl told investigators that she initially lied about the suspects’ identities because she did not want to be a snitch. She said Romero did not want to be separated from Castro. Romero also allegedly told her that she had been involved in a previous attempted murder case.When questioned about her changing story, the victim said her last version was the truth and volunteered to take a lie-detector test.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com