Trial set for drug suspect in Aspen
ASPEN An Aspen man is scheduled to stand trial in March after pleading not guilty Monday to charges of possession and intent to sell cocaine. District Judge James Boyd ruled that Moses Greengrass will be tried in Aspen, dismissing a request by the defense to change the venue because publicity surrounding the case would influence a local jury. Greengrass, 26, faces charges of felony possession of more than 25 grams of cocaine and possession with intent to sell. Aspen police arrested him downtown early on the morning of March 23.The arrest came after Greengrass’ release from state prison in January after a seven-year sentence for his role as a leader of local teenagers who committed a string of armed robberies in the upper Roaring Fork Valley. The Aspen Times and other local media have published dozens of articles about the 1999 crime spree.Citing minimal recent press coverage of the cocaine charges, and the time that has elapsed since the crime spree, Boyd reasoned that Greengrass would get a fair trial in Aspen.As part of the motion to change venue, public defender Garth McCarty asked the judge to hold The Aspen Times in contempt of court for publishing a photograph of Greengrass while he was in court, wearing the orange clothes the Pitkin County Courthouse requires.”It is an appropriate issue for the defense to raise,” Boyd said, adding that he would take the matter under advisement.An Aspen Times photographer took the photo through the window in the door of the courtroom while Greengrass waited for a hearing. Photographers are not allowed in Pitkin County’s district courtroom without a judge’s permission.While Boyd said he did not know of a statute pertaining to shooting a photograph through a courtroom door, he said the photographer’s actions might have broken codes of judicial conduct. Boyd said that because McCarty requested the contempt citation, the public defender would need to prosecute the charge. McCarty, however, declined to prosecute The Aspen Times and suggested that perhaps a special prosecutor was necessary. Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols said the request for a contempt citation was “bizarre,” adding that she did not know of a statute under which to charge. The Aspen Times has not been served with a formal complaint regarding contempt of court. Boyd set Greengrass’ trial at six days, starting on March 20. A pre-trial conference is set for 3 p.m. Feb. 11, and a motions hearing is set for at 3 p.m. Dec. 17.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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