Man with notorious Aspen past invokes ‘sovereign’ defense
The Aspen Times
A former Aspen resident who took part in a notorious 1999 crime spree that rattled locals now says he’s a “sovereign citizen” and should not have to face consequences for a DUI he received late last year.
Stefan Schutter, 36, now of Redstone, appeared Tuesday in Pitkin County Court and objected to efforts by the District Attorney’s Office to keep him from raising the sovereign citizen defense in his DUI trial scheduled for later this month.
“I can’t consent to your jurisdiction,” Schutter told Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely. “Your jurisdiction is not proved. We can’t move forward.”
Fernandez-Ely reminded Schutter that she’d previously denied his oral motion to raise the sovereign citizen defense and that it was time to move the case forward.
“We can’t,” Schutter said.
“We can,” Fernandez-Ely said, advising him that if he chooses to ignore the court, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.
“That would be a non-executable warrant,” Schutter said, before asking for an “admiralty lawyer.”
“This is not an admiralty court,” Fernandez-Ely said.
“It’s a common law court?” Schutter asked.
“I don’t know the language you’re using,” the judge said.
Schutter then asked for a continuance so he can “file intelligible motions” in the case. The judge agreed to continue Schutter’s DUI case until May 22, a week before his trial is set to begin.
In March, the judge filed an 11-page memo detailing the sovereign citizen movement.
“Sovereign Citizen legal theory is based upon an assertion of personal sovereignty separate and apart from the existing governmental framework of federal and state laws,” the memo states. “The Sovereign Citizen believes that any government-issued process, document or identification relating to him is merely legal fiction because the government itself is legal fiction.”
Schutter invoked the alleged legal doctrine when he was pulled over in December and when he first appeared in Pitkin County Court earlier this year.
He was at the wheel of a BMW SUV just before midnight Dec. 24 when he was stopped by a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy who saw him nearly hit two pedestrians walking across Main Street at the Mill Street intersection, according to the deputy’s report. The deputy reported seeing the two pedestrians jump out of the way of Schutter’s vehicle and Schutter then speak to them loudly, the report states.
Schutter smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech when he spoke to the deputy and admitted to drinking two beers before driving, according to the report.
While running Schutter’s information through emergency dispatchers, an Aspen police officer and the dispatchers warned the deputy over his radio to be cautious of Schutter because he was known to carry weapons. At that moment, Schutter “jumped out” of his car and approached the deputy just as several Aspen police officers and deputies arrived, the report states.
“Schutter told me several times that he did nothing wrong and I needed to give him his license back so that he could be on his way to Redstone,” according to Deputy Josh Bennett’s report. “I told Schutter he was not free to leave as I needed to make sure he was OK to operate a motor vehicle.”
Schutter declined to perform roadside sobriety tests.
“Schutter stated that he wanted to do no business with our corporation,” according to another deputy’s report.
When Bennett told him he was under arrest for drunken driving, Schutter immediately resisted. Several other deputies and Aspen police officers spent the next minute and a half wrestling him into handcuffs, according to Bennett’s report.
After he was handcuffed, Schutter bragged that it took five people to handcuff him and that all five couldn’t even take him to the ground, the report states.
At the Pitkin County Jail, Schutter remained “extremely uncooperative” and initially refused to sign documents. He also asked an Aspen police officer to shoot him in the head and offered to draw his own blood to prove he wasn’t drunk, according to the report.
He was charged with DUI, careless driving and resisting arrest.
Schutter was part of a group of 12 Aspen teenagers who embarked on a violent crime spree in 1999 that included the armed robberies of Clark’s Market in Aspen and a grocery store in Snowmass Village. The crimes also included two armed robberies of a movie theater, another of a condominium office and robberies at other Aspen businesses.
In August 2000, a jury convicted Schutter of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and theft between $500 and $15,000 for the Snowmass Village robbery. Though he was identified as the person who pistol-whipped the store’s manager, he was acquitted of second-degree assault in connection with that act.
Schutter also was implicated in the Clark’s Market robbery, though it is unclear from newspaper articles at the time if he was ever tried for that alleged crime.
Schutter was eventually sentenced to 10 years in prison and served about six years before he was released in 2005. However, he was arrested several months later in Jefferson County after he was found in possession of an assault rifle, a revolver, more than 270 grams of cocaine, 220 grams of hallucinogenic mushrooms, 360-plus grams of marijuana and smaller amounts of crack and heroin.
He was sentenced to another 10 years in prison for that incident.
Then, in 2008, he was implicated — along with his older brother, Devin Schutter — of allegedly smuggling cocaine and heroin into the state prison in Canon City. The drugs were brought into the facility by a milk truck driver.
Newspaper articles from that time do not indicate his punishment for the alleged drug smuggling.