Trial set for Carbondale man accused of felony cocaine charge

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

Nearly two years since his arrest in Aspen, a Carbondale man will stand trial next week on a felony cocaine-possession charge.

Fernando A. Fuentes-Silva, 30, a native of South America, is accused of holding more than 4 grams of cocaine when he was arrested on Sept. 6, 2012, following an argument with his ex-girlfriend at a Truscott Place apartment, according to Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County District Court records. The two-day trial is set to start Monday.

Blake Feamster, of the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, will handle the prosecution. Fuentes-Silva’s attorney is Beth Krulewitch, of Aspen.

At about 3 a.m. on the day of Fuentes-Silva’s arrest, emergency dispatchers received a 911 hang-up call from a woman indicating distress, records show. Soon after, an Aspen police officer called the woman, who said she and her boyfriend had gotten into an argument but that he had left, authorities said.

Three Aspen police officers responded and observed a man, later identified as Fuentes-Silva, leaving the area, according to records. He walked quickly to a nearby bus stop and waited, but it was after 2:30 a.m., and police knew that the next bus would not arrive until a few hours later, authorities said.

Fuentes-Silva attempted to use his cellphone, but at the time, cellphone service in the area was spotty, the records suggest. Police officers then decided to contact him.

He told them he was going to walk to the Aspen Business Center to a friend’s house, records show. The policemen observed that he appeared to be inebriated and that he was unable to stand still, records indicate.

“(Fuentes-Silva) was shifting his weight back and forth from foot to foot, had dilated pupils, was grinding his jaw back and forth, and was continually licking his lips,” a District Attorney’s Office document said. “He was speaking rapidly and didn’t always make sense when he spoke.”

Officer Jeff Fain believed that Fuentes-Silva was not only intoxicated but also under the influence of a stimulant such as cocaine. He asked Fuentes-Silva if he had been using cocaine “and the defendant said yes,” the document said.

However, when Fain asked Fuentes-Silva if he could search him, “the defendant said ‘no,’” according to the document.

Still, Fuentes-Silva “pulled a ziplock baggie containing a white powdery substance from his front right pocket” and handed it to Fain, the document said. The officers then arrested Fuentes-Silva, authorities said.

During a search, the policemen reported that they found three more small baggies of cocaine. Police said Fuentes-Silva told them he had purchased the baggies at an Aspen bar the night before.

After being booked into the Pitkin County Jail, Fuentes-Silva was released the same morning on $5,000 bond.

The case has been marked by several delays. At first, Fuentes-Silva was represented by the Public Defender’s Office, which worked toward a disposition in the case in late 2012. Unhappy with his representation and the disposition, and facing an immigration issue, he then hired Krulewitch, a private attorney. In October, he entered a not-guilty plea, and a trial was set for late March of this year.

In early March, the court held a hearing on Fuentes-Silva’s motion to suppress evidence in the case. Krulewitch argued that the officers’ initial contact with Fuentes-Silva was illegal and that all evidence and statements were invalid. That motion was denied.

Krulewitch then sought to have the trial postponed because of her workload in representing a defendant in a homicide case. The court then rescheduled the trial for late July. The case was resolved in late June.