Trial begins in Aspen school gun case
ASPEN – Opening arguments began Tuesday in the trial of a former Aspen school bus driver accused of having a gun on campus.
Stephane M. Peltier, 59, was arrested May 21 for allegedly carrying a weapon on the Aspen School District campus, one day after he brought a rifle on school property and displayed it to another individual.
Now it’s up to a 12-member jury to decide whether Peltier is guilty of the class-six felony charge of unlawfully carrying a weapon on school grounds. The trial is scheduled for three days.
Most of Tuesday was spent selecting a jury, and prospective jurors were quizzed on a variety of issues, ranging from what they listen to on the radio to feelings about gun control.
In his opening remarks, Peltier’s attorney, public defender Stephen McCrohan, said he merely had the gun for “protection of himself, protection of his property, and his place in which he lived.”
Peltier, McCrohan said, had lived in his Volkswagen Sirocco at the time of the incident, and had been traveling back and forth between Florida and Colorado. The gun, McCrohan argued, was simply for protection, and it was Peltier’s constitutional right to have one.
Lead prosecutor Richard Nedlin countered that it’s clear that Peltier violated state law by having a gun on the school grounds.
According to an arrest affidavit from Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Gibson, the gun was not loaded when police confiscated it from the hatchback of Peltier’s car, which was parked near the transportation department on school grounds.
Gibson’s affidavit says that Peltier told a man that he “would be able to take care of problems the [man] was experiencing with [his] ex-wife.”
Should Peltier be convicted, he faces up to 18 months in prison, based on sentencing guidelines. He is free on $2,500 bond.
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The Brush Creek Fire, located near Brush Mountain on Douglas Pass, and the Oil Springs Fire, located 20 miles south of Rangely and about 11 miles from the Brush Creek Fire, are contributing to the smokey air in and around Garfield County