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Motions in Torreyson murder case seek to catch defendant up on evidence

A slew of motions by Glenwood Springs murder defendant Trevor Torreyson, who is representing himself, continues to further delay the now two-and-a-half-year-old case.

In a Tuesday review hearing before District Judge James Boyd, Torreyson said he is missing thousands of pages of discovery documents, and wants his advisory counsel to forfeit their appointment to his case.

Torreyson, 44, stands accused of beating Keith Wayne to death on June 20, 2018, during what police investigators indicated was a night of heavy drinking involving the two homeless men in a small private park area off Storm King Road in West Glenwood.

Torreyson has remained in the Garfield County Jail on $1 million bond since his arrest the day after the incident at his nearby camp along Interstate 70.

Since taking on his own defense in September, Torreyson said he has been busy trying to obtain all of the documentation and evidence in the case from the various court-appointed attorneys who have represented him.

He has also filed eight different motions, ranging from asking for documents to seeking new advisory counsel in his case.

Attorneys appointed to advise a defendant in a criminal case can offer procedural advice, but do not fully represent a client who is acting pro se.

“A lot of these motions aren’t clear enough to understand what he is requesting, and what grievances he has,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Mallory said during the Tuesday hearing.

Appearing before the judge via the videoconference application Webex from the county jail, Torreyson said he is “missing well over 9,600 pages of discovery,” and has not been given reasonable access to digital evidence in his case.

A half-day motions hearing was scheduled for the morning of Jan. 20, 2021, which could lead to the scheduling of a preliminary hearing in the case.

Wayne, 56 at the time of the incident, was found dead the night of June 20, 2018 near several car dealerships in West Glenwood off of Storm King Road, with wounds on his left temple consistent with blunt force trauma.

The first officers on the scene found dry blood boot tracks on the concrete, leading west from the scene.

When police arrested Torreyson the next day, he was discovered in his campsite with blood on his boots, pants, shirt and arms, according to evidence in the case.

Police initially identified Torreyson as the primary suspect because of a bandana officers found at the scene under Wayne’s body, which officers recognized from previous contacts with the defendant.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Bench warrants issued for Ron Braden after failure to appear in court

Ronald James Braden, the former IT director for the town of Vail, remains at large and faces a long list of criminal charges.
Special to the Daily

Ron Braden, the town of Vail’s former IT director, was a no-show in district court Thursday morning for preliminary hearings and first appearances in multiple criminal cases against him.

After Braden failed to appear, Judge Paul R. Dunkelman issued extraditable bench warrants for each of Braden’s four criminal cases, according to Assistant District Attorney Heidi McCollum.

Braden remained at large and a fugitive from justice Friday, exactly one week after he removed his court-ordered GPS monitoring device and disappeared.

Braden faces more than 100 felony charges for allegedly planning to defraud taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars over six years and then resisting arrest and assaulting police when he was arrested July 4 for the charges of racketeering, theft of $100,000 to $1 million, money laundering, computer crime, embezzlement and forgery.

The charges against Braden, which include alleged violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, followed an 18-month investigation by Vail Police and the FBI.

District court records show Braden was released from custody after posting $250,000 bond on Aug. 27. They also show prosecutors attempted to modify and revoke Braden’s bond, and that Braden struggled to meet the conditions of his release.

McCollum has not responded to requests for comment about Braden’s compliance with his bond conditions. Neither has Braden’s attorney.

On Sept. 16, an arrest warrant was issued for Braden, charging him with misdemeanor violations of protection orders and felony bail bond violations. Court records indicate Braden was then ordered to home detention and electronic home monitoring, and only allowed to leave his home to meet medical needs, work, appear in court, meet with his attorney, or for living necessities such as trips to the grocery store.

Prosecutors asked the court to revoke Braden’s bond Sept. 21, after Braden indicated to Geo Reentry — the firm monitoring his whereabouts by GPS — he would be going out for daily bicycle rides in Eagle and Frisco and other locations.

“The defendant asked the court if he could ride his bicycle. The court said no,” prosecutors wrote in their Sept. 21 motion to revoke Braden’s bond, referencing an earlier hearing about his bond conditions. “Today the GPS unit showed he was riding his bicycle at the Minturn Bike Park. The defendant obviously is unwilling to comply with his bond conditions based upon his activities since Sept. 17.”

On Sept. 22, Braden apparently indicated to Geo Reentry that he would be traveling to shop at Safeway and Whole Foods in Frisco, and provided general statements of locations he would be traveling to for work. That same day, Judge Dunkelman entered a court order clarifying Braden was not authorized to leave home to ride his bicycle or exercise, and that travel for necessities required Braden to go to the closest possible facility.

Judge Dunkelman did not revoke Braden’s bond, but took prosecutors’ motion under advisement in a Sept. 23 order.

“The court finds it somewhat incredible that the defendant and counsel believe the court authorized leaving home for bike riding or other exercise. The court did not … The court order included nothing about leaving home for bike rides. The request was made by the defendant. The request was specifically and clearly denied,” Judge Dunkelman wrote in the order.

“The bond conditions were to limit and monitor the defendant’s location. It was not to permit the defendant to travel wherever he wanted as long as he gave general information in advance to Geo. It is apparent that the defendant has at best loosely interpreted the court orders. The court does not find this to be a misunderstanding or misinterpretation on the part of the defendant,” Dunkelman continued. “Lack of compliance or further attempts to creatively skirt this order will result in bond being revoked.”

On Sept. 24, Geo Reentry submitted a suspected violation of Braden’s bond conditions to the court after Braden indicated he would be leaving his home to walk his dog, and GPS showed he did. “As this is not a court approved activity, this is in violation of his bond conditions,” the Geo Reentry report states.

Braden’s bond was not revoked for the dog walk. An Oct. 7 court order stated Braden had never informed the court that he had a dog that would require him to leave his home for walks.

“Given the lack of information, the court did not authorize said activity. If defendant believes this to be a necessity, he needs to seek court approval in advance for this to be deemed a necessity,” Dunkelman wrote in the court order.

Braden remained on bond until mid-October, when he was permitted to travel to Grand Junction on Oct. 16 to help someone move personal property and go to the VA Hospital.

According to the town of Vail, Braden’s GPS monitoring device sent a tamper alert at 12:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, and then stopped tracking. Authorities said that two of Braden’s vehicles were found in separate locations — one at the Walmart in Avon where Braden was reportedly seen on security camera footage being picked up by someone in a silver Toyota 4Runner.

Vail Police Commander Ryan Kenney said the department is continuing to try to locate Braden using numerous state, federal and local resources.

According court records, Braden’s passport has already been surrendered.

 

Armed burglary suspect arrested Tuesday was out on bond from January vehicular homicide case

A Rifle man who was out on bond from a vehicular homicide case earlier this year allegedly broke into a house and woke up a resident in his bedroom while pointing a BB gun in his face was arrested Tuesday evening.

Chayton Reynolds, 20, was arrested on felony charges of third-degree robbery and fifth-degree menacing, his arrest affidavit states. Reynolds was also arrested on misdemeanor charges of first-degree assault and third-degree theft.

Just after 4 a.m. Monday morning, the Rifle Police Department was dispatched to the 200 block of Ash Avenue. The caller, who was at the time inside a bathroom with her daughters, informed police that an armed suspect had broken into her house, according to arrest records.

The caller’s husband would later tell police that he was sleeping and woke up when he heard what he described as a “click” sound. Upon opening his eyes, the male resident saw a figure wearing a hoodie pointing a handgun at him, the arrest record states.

The male resident then grabbed the handgun but the suspect pulled it away. The suspect then fled out of a side door, according to arrest records.

Once officers arrived on-scene, they did not see any vehicles leave the area. The arrest record also states that any nearby security cameras did not record any vehicles leaving the area.

According to a fellow RPD officer, Reynolds, who appeared in Garfield County Court Thursday in another case for allegedly killing a pedestrian in Rifle while driving intoxicated in January, was suspected of drinking again and that he lived in the area of where the burglary occurred.

In the earlier case, Reynolds was charged with vehicular homicide for allegedly driving drunk and hitting Robert Baumwoll, 50, around 7:20 a.m. Jan. 22 on U.S. Highway 6 east of Rifle.

At his Thursday court hearing, bond was set at $20,000 cash, and Reynolds remains in the Garfield County Jail. His original bond was $10,000 upon his arrest after the January incident, but that was lowered to $8,000 surety bond on May 28, and he subsequently posted bond and was released.

Reynolds is due back in court on both cases on Dec. 17.

After the Monday burglary, an anonymous source also called in to the RPD. The caller told police that Reynolds was the one who committed the robbery and that, with Reynolds’ court date coming, “he had nothing to lose.” The caller also feared that Reynolds was attempting to “commit suicide by cop,” the arrest record states.

Home security footage was later obtained by the RPD. The footage showed a male walking northbound on Ute Avenue matching the description given to police at the time of the incident.

On Tuesday evening, the RPD contacted Reynolds’ mother by phone, asking to speak with her in person. According to arrest records, the RPD spoke in person with Reynolds’ mother in front of her residence in the 700 block of Third Street. The investigating officer told Reynolds’ mother that he suspected him of committing a burglary and was worried that “he would be killed if he continued breaking into occupied residences.”

After, the RPD asked if they could speak to Reynolds himself. Reynolds would initially deny the charges to police. A few minutes later, however, Reynolds called the investigating officer and agreed to turn himself in, the arrest record states.

When the RPD came back to Reynolds’ residence, Reynolds pointed to six empty liquor bottles and a long-barreled revolver sitting on the front yard, saying, “there it is.”

Reynolds was arrested without incident and taken to the Garfield County Jail. 

rerku@citizentelegram.com 

Case continued for mother accused in child’s drug overdose death in Rifle

The first-degree murder case against Stephanie Alvarado involving the death of her young daughter, Sophia Larson, continues to make its way through a courts system bogged down by the pandemic.

Alvarado appeared via the online video hosting platform Webex from the Garfield County Jail before District Judge Denise Lynch on Thursday. The case was continued to Dec. 3, as Alvarado had been sick recently and unable to consult with her attorney, Liz Krupa.

Krupa described symptoms similar to those associated with Covid-19, including loss of taste, that Alvarado had been experiencing. However, she did not say that Alvarado had been tested for Covid-19. No cases have been reported within the Garfield County Jail.

“We are asking for more time, to make sure her health is in a good place,” Krupa asked of Lynch.

Alvarado initially faced charges of child abuse resulting in death, a class two felony the same level as manslaughter, for the Dec. 12, 2019 death of 5-year-old Sophia Larson due to methamphetamine intoxication.

The charge was later increased to first-degree murder, and Alvarado has remained in the Garfield County jail on $1.05 million bond.

According to the Garfield County Coroner, Larson died after allegedly ingesting water contaminated with the drug. At the time, Alvarado and her cousin, Daniel Alvarado, and another co-defendant in the case, Bertha Ceballos-Romo, were allegedly using, according to the investigators’ affidavit in the case.

According to court documents, Alvarado told police she feared she might lose custody of her daughter if she took her to the hospital.

Alvarado was initially out on $30,000 bond in February of this year, after her Jan. 30 arrest, when she allegedly broke into the home of her ex-boyfriend, and Sophie’s father, Alec Larson, and attacked him. That resulted in additional charges including felony burglary, criminal trespass, and violating bail bond conditions, and misdemeanor assault and criminal mischief.

jstroud@postindependent.com

Rifle Police Department responds to burglary in progress early Monday morning

Rifle police are asking for information from the public after a reportedly armed suspect fled the scene of an attempted burglary Monday morning.

A call came in around 4 a.m. to the Rifle Police Department of a burglary in progress in the 200 block of Ash Avenue. The release states that a male victim had woken up to the suspect — who the victim states was armed with a handgun — in his house, according to an RPD news release.

The resident then fought with the suspect over control of the firearm, the release further states. After, the suspect fled the area on foot while the resident was left unharmed.

The suspect is described as a stocky male, 5’8”-5’10” tall, wearing a brown hoodie. 

The RPD plans to canvas the area later this evening. Rifle Police Chief Tommy Klein said the evening is the best time to canvas in order to reach as many people as possible as they come home from work.

A $500 reward is available from Rifle police for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person involved in this crime. Residents who live in or near the 200 block of Ash Avenue and who have exterior video cameras are also being asked to call the department.

People willing to provide information can call 970-665-6500.

Citizens are reminded to remain vigilant and keep their homes and cars secured and use exterior lighting as a deterrent, the release states.

Recent rash of car thefts extends to multiple West Slope counties

Residents of the Wildridge and Wildwood neighborhoods in Avon awoke Saturday morning to news of a manhunt underway in their vicinity after a stolen vehicle led to a search of the area.

The recovered car in Wildridge was one of 13 vehicles that have been stolen in recent weeks in the region, prompting alerts not only in Eagle County but neighboring Garfield and Summit counties, as well. The Colorado Information and Analysis Center is currently working with a group of local agencies to determine just how widespread the recent thefts have been across the state.

According to information from the Avon Police Department, the Colorado State Patrol and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, five vehicles in total were stolen in Eagle County on Saturday, with at least one recovered. After a vehicle with a trailer containing at least one ATV was stolen in EagleVail, the suspects were caught in the act of swapping out vehicles at a trailhead in Minturn, when they jumped into another vehicle and fled.

Trooper Jacob Best with the Colorado State Patrol said a short pursuit ensued in the EagleVail area with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, but that pursuit was discontinued for safety reasons. The vehicle was later found abandoned on Wildwood Road and officers searched for the suspect in the nearby neighborhoods for about two hours, said Avon Police Chief Greg Daly.

“We went door to door, made sure everybody was OK, made sure there was no other stolen vehicles from that area,” Daly said.

Not pursuing in populated areas

While those officers were going door to door in Wildwood on Saturday, another vehicle was stolen in Edwards, Daly said.

That vehicle was later identified in Summit County, and Colorado State Patrol gave chase.

“Our troopers attempted to make a stop on that vehicle that came from Eagle County and reported stolen, and it also picked up at a high rate of speed, exited off recklessly at Silverthorne,” Best said. “Immediately our trooper discontinued the pursuit, because it went into a populated area. A couple minutes later, after they were canvassing around with Summit County deputies, they got a later report indicating that same described vehicle had sideswiped a (commercial motor vehicle) up Eisenhower at a high rate of speed, and that was the last we had observed it.”

Daly said each public safety office has its own procedures on pursuing vehicles, but in general, when having to choose between recovering stolen property and risking human life, officers tend to err on the side of not risking human life.

“In a lot of these pursuits, the officers have disengaged because of the driving actions of the individuals,” Daly said. “It is, at the end of the day, stolen property, so from that perspective, agencies always have to balance that against their driving action — driving 100 miles per hour on the shoulder around cars — agencies will not continue to pursue on that basis.”

Daly describes it as a quick, but critical, decision making process.

“You want to pursue and stop these events from occurring, but you don’t want to put members of the public unnecessarily in danger because of that pursuit,” Daly said.

Some thieves apprehended

Last week, Best said Colorado State Patrol officers received a traffic complaint of two vehicles traveling at a high rate of speed between Copper Mountain and Silverthorne.

“They matched the description of two vehicles that were still outstanding and had been reported stolen from the Avon area,” Best said. “Our troopers located the two vehicles traveling together from Clear Creek into Jefferson County, they attempted to make a stop which engaged a pursuit, which immediately dumped off into the side streets of Highway 6.”

The officers then called off the pursuit, “just because you start going into populated areas, obviously we are going to try to mitigate and manage our risk as much as possible,” Best said.

In Garfield County last week, Colorado State Patrol officers were able to apprehend some car thieves after a chase.

“One of our troopers (used tire-deflation devices) to stop one of the stolen vehicles, and that was also tied to some thefts and attempted vehicle thefts in the Eagle area,” Best said.

In a release issued Saturday, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said some of the activity was from out-of-state thefts which had made their way to Garfield County via the I-70 Corridor, and that there were car thefts occurring in Mesa County, as well.

“Many of these thefts have resulted in subsequent pursuits placing not only law enforcement personnel in danger but also the general public,” Vallario said. “The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, in cooperation with the Colorado State Patrol and local municipal Police Departments have been successful in stopping and apprehending several individuals involved in these thefts. It is unclear yet whether these thefts are a part of an organized effort or simply opportunistic.”

Guns and meth

In addition to their willingness to engage in high-speed evasive action, the thieves have also proven themselves dangerous in the evidence they’ve left behind — namely that related to guns and methamphetamine.

Daly said firearms have been found in at least two of the recovered vehicles, another gun has been stolen from a vehicle, and there’s been evidence of meth use in the recovered vehicles.

“We would not want any of our residents to approach these individuals,” Daly said.

The suspects have used the punch method of stealing cars — where a tool is used to enter the vehicle and start the ignition — and have also opted for the less-invasive frosting method, where the opportunist drives away in an unattended vehicle that has been left running.

Daly said in his 24 years as a cop in the area, he has never seen car thieves as brazen as the people who have hit Eagle County in recent weeks.

“I’ve never seen this level of theft of vehicles, especially in one area and again in the same area,” he said. “It’s highly unusual.”

Daly said the public should not leave cars running and unlocked, do not leave cars unlocked with the keys inside, and do not leave valuables in the car.

“If somebody does try and steal or break into your car, please do not approach them,” Daly said. “Call 911 immediately.”

‘That’s not what we need’

Jacob Best with the Colorado State Patrol said the public can be most helpful by simply understanding that the thieves are working our neighborhoods here in Eagle County, so suspicious behavior should be reported immediately.

“Don’t engage, but call us early,” Best said. “We’ve had people call us 24 hours later, that’s not what we need. We need people to call us immediately when they start seeing things that are suspicious.”

Best said thieves looking for a crime of opportunity of one sort — like stealing a running car — may find other opportunities along the way.

“They’ll do a bunch of other crimes along with it,” Best said.

In one recent example, “They couldn’t steal the car, but they took credit cards and went to the next store and bought a bunch of gift cards on that person’s credit card, and racked up thousands of dollars worth of debt, but now they’ve got these cash cards that are untraceable,” Best said.

Six more attempted thefts have been reported in addition to the 13 cars stolen in recent weeks. It’s also important to note that those cars aren’t necessarily the nicest cars on the street, Best points out.

“Between last week and this week, we’ve had a couple cars that were older model Audis and pickup trucks, but nothing really specific,” Best said. “Some cars that were running and idling were higher end, and that were easy steals, so nothing specific to where it’s older model cars or newer model cars.”

The Colorado Information and Analysis Center has helped local agencies from across the state see the connections between the automobile thefts in their areas.

“That’s how we’ve learned that all this stuff is going on in Summit County, Eagle County, Lakewood and the Denver Metro Area,” Best said.

Carbondale man faces felony after allegedly attacking custodian at Aspen school

A Carbondale man who allegedly attacked a custodian Sunday at Aspen Elementary School was charged Friday with burglary and second-degree assault, according to court records.

Cesar Gonzalez, 24, underwent a mental health evaluation after he was arrested for the offenses. He later admitted to ingesting LSD while allegedly ranting unintelligibly about entering a “portal” and fighting someone “in this other dimension in a different world,” according to a warrantless affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Both charges filed Friday by the District Attorney’s Office are felonies.

The incident occurred about 6:30 a.m. Sunday when the 61-year-old custodian was at work in the elementary school’s cafeteria.

“(The man) told me he was fixing a drinking water fountain when his attacker jumped on him from behind and choked him by placing him in a chokehold or neck restraint,” according to report from a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy in the affidavit. “(The custodian) thought at first it was a fellow employee playing around with him.”

He quickly realized the situation was serious, however. The custodian went down to his knees and nearly lost consciousness before he began to fight back and wrestle Gonzalez, who is listed as 5 feet, 6 inches and 112 pounds in the police report. The man was able to pin Gonzalez down by his neck, though Gonzalez broke loose and ran out the school’s front door, according to the affidavit.

“When (the custodian) was asked whether or not this attack caused pain, (he) replied, ‘Oh my god, yeah. I feared for my life,’” the affidavit states. “(He) told me his attacker was determined to do damage and take him out.”

The man suffered large abrasions to both knees and one elbow and was bleeding from his ear, according to the deputy’s report in the affidavit.

An Aspen police officer later arrested Gonzalez in Aspen.

Judge forbids David Lesh from national forest land after latest social media post

A part-time Colorado resident who documents his disrespect for public lands on social media learned Friday what happens when defendants try to go toe-to-toe with a federal judge.

After agreeing to a compromise earlier this month that allowed David Lesh to enter U.S. Forest Service lands if he agreed to abide by the same rules as everyone else, U.S. Magistrate Gordon Gallagher lowered the boom on Lesh for appearing to flout that agreement 19 days later when he posted a picture of himself purportedly defecating in Maroon Lake.

As of Friday, Lesh, 35, will no longer be allowed to enter millions of acres of U.S. Forest Service lands for the foreseeable future thanks to the Maroon Lake photo posted Oct. 21 on Instagram, Gallagher said.

In addition to the ban, the judge forbid Lesh from posting any picture or video on any social media platform of himself or anyone else violating state or federal laws on any federal lands under the jurisdiction of the court, including National Forests, National Monuments, Bureau of Land Management land and other federal property, the judge said.

“I find it appropriate to change (Lesh’s bond conditions) … to protect the land not only from Mr. Lesh’s direct actions, but also from the influence Mr. Lesh clearly has” on social media, Gallagher said. The judge also said he was issuing the ruling “to ensure the safety of the community.”

The ban will last at least the duration of the current federal case against him.

Lesh asked the judge to postpone the ban and the other conditions until he could hire a new attorney, probably by the end of next week.

“The request is denied,” Gallagher said, noting that Lesh must sign the new conditions by Tuesday or risk arrest.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Junction had already threatened to ban Lesh from U.S. Forest lands in early October. That’s when he appeared in U.S. District Court to answer allegations that he trespassed — and posted proof of his actions on social media — at Keystone Ski Area in late April and Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs this summer.

However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Hautzinger and Lesh’s attorney, Stephen Laische of Grand Junction, were able to work out a compromise that was accepted by Gallagher Oct. 2. Under conditions of that compromise, Lesh agreed not to trespass on closed national forest lands and abide by all rules on open lands or risk arrest and/or forfeiture of a $1,000 bond.

Nineteen days later, he posted the Maroon Lake picture on Instagram with a caption Gallagher read out loud during Friday’s virtual court hearing.

“Moved to Colorado 15 years ago, finally made it to Maroon Lake,” Lesh wrote. “A scenic dump with no one there was worth the wait.”

A law enforcement officer with the U.S. Forest Service, who supervised the investigation into the photo, noted in an affidavit that Maroon Lake is “part of the watershed that supplies drinking water to Aspen, Colorado and is one of the most visited sites in the National Forest system,” according to a motion Hautzinger filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. The photo was included with the motion.

“What appears to be fecal matter exiting the body of Lesh is visible in the photo,” according to the officer’s affidavit.

The officer also noted that it is against the rules to enter Maroon Lake in any way, including wading, swimming or boating. However, he also found evidence that the photo “may be older or manipulated in some manner,” according to the affidavit.

“(The forest service officer) reported to me that water level in Maroon Lake was currently lower than the Instagram post depicts as well as the presence of floating avalanche debris in the lake that is not present in the Instagram photo,” Special Agent Ben Leach wrote in the affidavit. “(The officer) was also unable to locate the driftwood log in the foreground (of Lesh’s photo).”

On Friday, Hautzinger acknowledged that the photo might have been taken before Gallagher accepted the bond condition compromise Oct. 2.

“But the mere posting of the photo shows the defendant’s intent to flout the court’s order,” Hautzinger said.

Laische filed a motion Oct. 22 to withdraw as Lesh’s attorney, “as a result of the defendant’s latest Instagram posting,” according to Hautzinger’s motion. Laische on Friday cited “irreconcilable difference” with his client in wanting to end the relationship, though he continued to act as Lesh’s attorney throughout Friday’s proceedings.

Laische called Lesh’s actions “injudicious,” but said a total ban on millions of acres of forest land was not appropriate or enforceable.

The judge disagreed.

Gallagher acknowledged that “it’s entirely conceivable that (Lesh’s) conduct is contemptuous of the court’s order of Oct. 2,” but the conduct did not occur in the judge’s presence, so he said it wasn’t for him revoke Lesh’s bond and have him arrested. The U.S. Attorney’s Office can proceed with contempt of court charges against Lesh if it wants, he said.

But it was within Gallagher’s purview to alter the conditions of Lesh’s $1,000 bond, he said, before issuing the forest ban.

Lesh’s Maroon Lake post has prompted condemnation from nearly every corner of the Roaring Fork Valley.

The Forest Service’s district ranger whose territory includes the Maroon Bells area called the picture “deeply offensive,” while Pitkin County’s sheriff said Lesh’s behavior was “totally unacceptable.” Area residents were equally outraged.

Not only did that come through in comments on the websites of both Aspen daily newspapers, but also on Lesh’s Instagram post itself, though he also received accolades from his supporters for the photo. In addition, 23 people — mainly Roaring Fork Valley residents — wrote letters to Gallagher that are part of Lesh’s court file urging the harshest punishment possible for his repeated acts of disrespect to public lands in the area.

Most of those letters expressed variations of the sentiment succinctly conveyed by Christopher Anson of Aspen.

“Please throw the book at David Lesh,” Anson wrote. “Please give him the maximum sentences for every infraction. Please ban him from ALL public lands. He obviously has no respect for the court’s previous actions.”

Lesh first came to attention of Aspen locals July 3, 2019, when the executive director of the Independence Pass Foundation spotted him piloting his snowmobile over grass and fragile terrain near the Upper Lost Man Trailhead on Independence Pass. He was charged with four petty offenses after a Forest Service investigation and later paid a $500 fine and performed 50 hours of community service under terms of a plea deal.

Just as that case wound down, Lesh was charged with riding his snowmobile in Keystone’s terrain park while the ski area was closed because of COVID-19. He posted a photo of himself taking the sled off a jump. At the same time, he was charged with five counts related to his entering Hanging Lake on June 10 while it was closed because of the coronavirus and posting a picture of himself illegally climbing on a log in the lake.

That case remains ongoing.

On Friday, Gallagher asked if Lesh understood the new conditions forbidding him from National Forests and from posting pictures of himself or others breaking laws on federal public lands.

“The post of the defecating in Maroon Lake …” Lesh began before Laische cut him off.

“I’m advising you to refrain from talking about that,” his soon-to-be ex-lawyer said. “Please don’t get into that.”

Lesh continued to try to speak and Laische continued to try and stop him ­ at one point telling him “No” and that he could not talk in court ­ until Gallagher finally broke in.

“David Lesh, stop talking for a moment,” the judge said, noting that Laische’s advice to stop talking was good because Lesh can be charged by the government in connection with the Maroon Lake photo.

Lesh appears to continue habit of abusing public lands — this time at Maroon Lake

This time David Lesh made his feelings toward public lands crystal clear.

After riding his snowmobile in a wilderness area on Independence Pass in July 2019, poaching Keystone’s terrain park with his snowmobile while it was closed last winter and entering Hanging Lake during a COVID-related closure this summer, the part-time Colorado resident elevated his social media-curated disrespect for those lands to a new level Wednesday.

Lesh, 35, posted a picture to Instagram late Wednesday morning that purports to show him defecating in Maroon Lake.

“Moved to Colorado 15 years ago, finally made it to Maroon Lake,” Lesh wrote in the photo’s caption. “A scenic dump with no one there was worth the wait.”

The photo shows him standing in the lake shirtless with his shorts around his ankles while squatting and holding on to a dead tree stump on the shore of the lake. He appears to be in the middle of defecating. There is not a way to see when the photo was taken, but partially snow-covered Maroon Bells — the most photographed feature in Colorado — are in the background, along with the yellow and orange fall colors.

The photo received more than 3,000 likes and nearly 300 comments by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, with some commenters calling Lesh “a legend.”

Lesh just appeared in U.S. District Court in Grand Junction on Oct. 2 to answer to charges related to the alleged Hanging Lake and Keystone incidents. During that appearance, Lesh agreed not to trespass on closed national forest lands and to abide by all rules on open lands or risk arrest and/or the forfeiture of a $1,000 bond.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said he was aware of the Maroon Lake photo but could not comment further. A spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service said the same thing.

Kevin Warner, district ranger for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District that includes the Maroon Bells, confirmed in an email exchange that entering Maroon Lake for any purpose — swimming, wading, boating — is prohibited. Defecating in the lake also is not allowed under “more general sanitation regulations,” Warner said.

“The photo is deeply offensive to us at the Forest Service,” he said in a subsequent phone interview. “I think it is deeply offensive to the public who treasure their national forests.”

However, Warner said the photo may not be real. Lake levels this year and the location of avalanche debris appear to indicate the photo was not taken this year, he said.

“I can’t tell you definitively,” Warner said.

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said the U.S. Forest Service is investigating the alleged incident, along with a deputy from his office. He said he first heard about the photo from someone in the community who has kept tabs on Lesh since his antics on Independence Pass, though he later heard from at least five other people on the subject.

DiSalvo said he’d seen the picture and caption.

“I took him at his word,” the sheriff said of Lesh allegedly using the lake as a toilet. “That’s what it looked like he was doing. The behavior’s totally unacceptable.”

U.S. Magistrate Gordon Gallagher on Oct. 2 approved Lesh’s bond conditions regarding public lands and ordered him to provide the unsecured bond. If he violates conditions of the bond, he will “be on the hook for $1,000,” Gallagher said at the time.

Asked if he understood the conditions, Lesh said, “I do, your honor.”

A message left for Lesh’s attorney in Grand Junction was not returned Wednesday. In addition, a message sent to Lesh via Instagram from The Aspen Times seeking comment was not returned.

Woman arrested Wednesday following high-speed pursuit on I-70 near Silt, New Castle

A 20-year-old woman faces several charges after allegedly leading law enforcement on a high-speed pursuit Wednesday evening along county roads and Interstate 70.

An arrest affidavit states Erica Janett Canas was arrested on felony charges of second-degree assault on a peace officer and second-degree trespassing on agricultural land. She also faces eight misdemeanors: criminal mischief, reckless driving, vehicular eluding, resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer, reckless endangerment, driving under cancellation/denied and leaving the scene of an accident involving property damage.

Authorities were called to a “trespass in progress” at a bee farm outside of Silt around 5:40 p.m. Wednesday, according to arrest records. A woman, later identified as Canas, was allegedly driving a midsize SUV in circles through the property.

Deputies approached Canas on foot. Canas, who had an outstanding felony arrest warrant, accelerated in their direction, according to arrest records. At this time, an assisting deputy deployed a spike strip, after which Canas pulled an abrupt U-turn, drove quickly eastbound across the property and through a field.

Canas then drove through a fence and onto County Road 346, eventually pulling into a hotel parking lot on River Frontage Road, according to arrest records. Canas would then make it onto I-70, traveling between 85-110 mph eastbound with several deputies in pursuit.

At the I-70 New Castle exit, Canas made an abrupt turn onto the eastbound off-ramp at the last moment, disregarding a stop sign then heading southbound toward Garfield County Road 335. Driving between 65-75 mph in a 45 mph zone, Canas allegedly passed multiple vehicles over the double line.

Canas would lead authorities through the Apple Tree mobile home park and back onto County Road 335, according to arrest records. Soon after, Canas drove over a deployed spike strip and managed to make it several car lengths before stopping.

Canas then attempted to evade authorities on foot. She was eventually tased “to attempt to prevent her from scaling the guard rail and potentially escaping by jumping into the Colorado River,” according to arrest records.

Apprehended, Canas was taken to Valley View Hospital around 7 p.m. While seated next to an arresting deputy in a hospital waiting room, Canas allegedly kicked the deputy in the groin and began running toward the front doors. The deputy gave chase and tackled Canas. 

With the help of several assisting deputies, Canas was eventually taken to the Garfield County jail.

rerku@citizentelegram.com