Trial date set in Aspen courthouse escape case | AspenTimes.com

Trial date set in Aspen courthouse escape case

ASPEN – Sensing the demise of a plea agreement for a man charged with felony eluding, District Judge Gail Nichols on Monday set a May 3-4 trial date for Warren Carter.

Nichols also pleaded not guilty on behalf of Carter, after his court-appointed attorney said they were not willing to enter a plea because they have yet to hear the audio recording of Carter’s hearing that led to his alleged escape from the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen in July.

“The defendant finds himself unable to enter a plea because he feels he needs all the discovery before he makes this monumental decision,” defense attorney Peter Rachesky said.

Nichols said she would allow Rachesky and Carter, 45, of Aspen to listen to the transcripts in open court on Feb. 7, but that the case needed to move forward. Because of that, Rachesky said the defense “had to move past the date of entering a plea.”

In previous hearings, Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin had said the plea deal would expire Monday if Carter did not accept it. He didn’t, which means he faces habitual offender charges that could tack on another 48 years in the Department of Corrections.

Carter has argued that he was not in custody at the time he bolted from the Pitkin County Courthouse, which came after a sentencing hearing during which Judge James Boyd sentenced him to three years in state prison for a theft conviction. Police arrested him behind the Red Brick Center for the Arts about 10 minutes after he allegedly fled. Since his arrest, Carter has been in the custody of the Pitkin County Jail.

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After Nichols asked if any “small motions” would be filed in the case, Carter responded: “With all due respect, there will be no motions that will be small. These will be big … this is my life.”

rcarroll@aspentimes.com