Volleybrawl in county jailhouse gym
August 23, 2011
ASPEN – A volleyball match at the Pitkin County Jail on Saturday night netted a bloody lip for one inmate and a misdemeanor assault charge for another.
Officials say Esbilmer Geovanny Perez-Ruano, 28, punched Andrian Arapu in the mouth over a disputed call in a volleyball game held in the jailhouse’s gymnasium. Arapu was treated at Aspen Valley Hospital where he received seven stitches to his lip.
The two inmates were on opposing teams; Perez-Ruano had insisted that the ball went out of bounds, while Arapu had argued it was within the lines, reported Deputy Mario Strobl wrote, based on a statement he collected from Arapu. Strobl, who served Perez-Ruano with a summons for assault, was called into investigate the incident by a jail deputy.
“After a verbal exchange between Arapu and Perez-Ruano, Arapu was punched in the mouth by Perez-Ruano. Arapu suffered a split lip and did not retaliate against Perez-Ruano,” Strobl wrote. One inmate who witnessed the incident told Strobl that Jail Deputy Rick Brebner “quickly broke up the fight,” Strobl reported.
On Monday in Pitkin County Court, Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely advised Perez-Ruano that he faces one misdemeanor count of third-degree assault with the intent to cause bodily injury. A conviction carries 24 months in county jail and the possibility of a $5,000 fine.
The two inmates apparently have a history of bad blood. One inmate told Strobl that each of them has made derogatory statements against the other in the past.
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For the time-being, Perez-Ruano faces a mandatory protection order that prohibits him from having contact with Arapu. Deputy district attorney Richard Nedlin and the judge discussed in court whether he might have to be transferred to another jail.
Through a Spanish-language interpreter, Perez-Ruano told the judge that he’s concerned about being relocated.
“With this whole issue about going to other places, I’ve also worked with police on other cases and I don’t know if this will cause problems,” he said.
Jail administrator Don Bird said that he and his staff will see to it that the two don’t have contact while incarcerated in Pitkin County.
“We will keep him confined from Mr. Arapu,” Bird told the judge.
After the hearing, Bird said violence among inmates is fairly rare in Pitkin County Jail.
“It’s not common,” he said. “In fact, it’s pretty uncommon.”
Perez-Ruano, whose most recent address was in Basalt, has been in custody at Pitkin County Jail since his a Colorado State Patrol officer arrested him June 20 on Highway 82 on a felony charge of criminal impersonation-liability, one misdemeanor charge of driving under restraint, and separate traffic offenses of failure to display proof of insurance and having a fictitious license plate.
He also has an Immigrations Customs and Enforcement hold, meaning he faces deportation to his home country of Guatemala after his Pitkin County case is adjudicated. The new assault case against him carries a $1,000 bond, which Fernandez-Ely issued. That’s on top of the $1,500 bond connected to the June 20 arrest.
“Even if you post bond, you won’t be released subject to the ICE hold,” the judge told Perez-Ruano.
Likewise, an ICE hold is on Arapu, 25, who is from the Eastern European nation of Moldova and was living at the Copper Horse apartment building on Main Street in Aspen at the time police arrested him April 6 on suspicion of cocaine distribution. The official charges against Arapu are a class-three felony offense of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and a class-three count of unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing or sale of cocaine. Prosecutors also have tacked on special sentencing enhancers because he allegedly was in possession of a handgun at the time of his arrest.