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Wille let out of jail

John Colson

Cody Wille walked out of the Pitkin County Jail Tuesday destined for home.

Wille, 18, was granted a reduced sentence yesterday by District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss, after a hearing that lasted nearly two hours. He will not have to serve out his three-year sentence in the Youth Offender Services facility in Pueblo.

Instead, he faces five years of closely supervised probation, living with his mother, Kim Wille of El Jebel, under a strict set of court-ordered conditions. He will report weekly to a probation office.

Although Wille declined to make any comment about the change in sentencing, his mother declared, “I’m thrilled, and I just hope the healing can begin now.”

She predicted that the first thing Wille would do when he got home would be to hug his dog, Marty, and then turn on his stereo to hear some of his favorite music.

Wille was one of a dozen local youths implicated in a string of crimes in August and September of 1999.

In a plea bargain, Wille pleaded guilty to one count of robbery for his part in the armed robbery of Clark’s Market in Aspen on Aug. 5, 1999, and agreed to testify against the others involved in that and other crimes. One of those others, Yuri Ognacevic, also was in court on Tuesday to see if the judge would reduce his sentence (see related story.)

Prosecutor Lawson Wills recommended that Wille be released from prison and be put on probation. He called Wille’s testimony against his friends “one of the most courageous things I’ve seen.”

The judge read from a variety of letters and memoranda attesting to Wille’s performance as “a model prisoner” and a dedicated student who got his high school diploma while in prison, as well as other certificates of learning.

Not all of the memos were favorable toward a reduction in Wille’s sentence, however.

The judge cited an unsigned letter from “friends of the victims who cannot speak safely,” not commenting on the contents of the letter but implying that the author is fearful of reprisals from those involved in the crimes.

But, the judge noted, “I do not fear, even a little bit, for my own personal safety from Cody Wille.”

And one of the victims, Clark’s night manager Peter Roberts, wrote to the judge that he hopes “to be able to sit down across the table from Cody Wille … to look him in the eye and hear what he has to say.” Tuesday in court, Roberts said, “I think Cody has learned his lesson.”

Wille told the judge that “over the last year I’ve learned my lesson” and that he hopes to help the community get over the trauma of the “crime spree.”

According to testimony, Wille is hoping to get a job in Aspen, attend classes at Colorado Mountain College and ultimately transfer to a specialized school in San Francisco, where he can learn music production skills.

As part of his probation he will wear an electronic home monitor for three months. He also was ordered to stay away from drugs, alcohol and all weapons, not to have anything to do with his former companions in crime or any of the victims of his misdeeds and to undergo therapy as directed by his probation officer.

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