Alleged arsonist misses court date in GarCo, but ‘in a safe place’
It was no surprise when Robin Jay Clifton, 47, of Collbran, did not show up for his scheduled court appearance Friday morning in Garfield County Court in Glenwood Springs.His court date, in which he was to enter a plea on 13 charges in connection with the Sept. 5, 2005, Labor Day arson fires in Rifle, was continued and rescheduled to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 20.Clifton is currently being held in Mesa County on a $25,000 bond in the menacing case. But Clifton’s total bond in his Garfield County cases now exceeds $550,000, said 9th Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson. “When we heard he (Clifton) had been identified in a photo lineup in a felony menacing case, we asked the judge for a substantial bond, and he issued a bond in excess of $500,000,” Beeson said. Even though Clifton couldn’t be transported to Garfield County Friday, “he’s in a safe place,” Beeson said. “He’s where we believe he should be. We’ll get him over here at some point.”Clifton, who bonded out of the Garfield County Jail in May, was allegedly involved in a June 12 menacing incident with his wife, Robin Pearl Clifton, who allegedly pointed a gun at a mother and her young son in an alley behind the City Market grocery store on 32 Road in Clifton. According to Robin Jay Clifton’s arrest warrant affidavit filed in Mesa County District Court, Alicia Sears, 21, her 2-year-old son and a friend were under an awning at the City Market. Robin Pearl Clifton, who was sitting with Robin Jay Clifton in a teal Honda Accord about 15 feet away, allegedly told Sears, “Don’t look at my husband.” Sears told a Sheriff’s deputy that she was laughing at the couple when Robin Pearl Clifton allegedly got out of the car and yelled, “Keep laughing, and I’ll show you what’s up.”With her son, Sears began running, and Robin Pearl Clifton allegedly followed closely behind, pointing a gun at them. Sears and her son had to hide in a trash dumpster to elude Robin Pearl Clifton, who soon returned to the Honda and drove away. Sears identified the Cliftons in a photo lineup of possible suspects in the incident on June 16. Another felony menacing incident in Grand Junction involving the same vehicle occurred about 15 minutes prior to the alleged menacing at the City Market, according to the affidavit. Both Cliftons were arrested and charged with felony menacing and child abuse. Robin P. Clifton later posted a $5,100 bail and was released.Robin Jay Clifton is accused of setting four fires in Rifle during the early morning hours of Labor Day 2005, which destroyed two businesses and did minor damage to two others. The Rifle Fireside Lanes in north Rifle was restored and reopened last month. The Rifle Amoco service station in the 100 block of Railroad Avenue is currently being rebuilt and scheduled to open sometime this month.After seven months of investigation, the Rifle Police Department arrested Clifton on the arson charges in April 2006. Clifton posted a $210,000 bond in May.
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