Man asserts squatter’s rights over Aspen home

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

A convicted felon found living in a home on Aspen’s east side last weekend attempted to exercise “squatter’s rights” over the property when deputies arrested him, according to allegations made in court documents.

Now, however, Isaac Brehm, 26, faces charges of selling off property from the house, driving the owner’s car and possessing other stolen goods as well as heroin. Another man allegedly staying at the home, Tyler Parks, 32, faces similar charges.

Brehm told a Pitkin County sheriff’s deputy he’d done landscaping and snowplowed the home’s driveway for two years, then took possession of the property on Mountain Laurel Drive in December 2018 “by adverse possession,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court.

Brehm admitted he is not the homeowner, has had no contact with the homeowner and that the homeowner had no idea he and the other man were living there.

“Brehm then directed me to a metal container in the entryway of the house that contained the ‘adverse possession’ affidavit,” a deputy wrote in the document filed in district court. “In the container, I found a seven-page Affidavit of Adverse Possession.”

The adverse possession doctrine — sometimes referred to as “squatter’s rights” — dates back to English common law and essentially says that if a person occupies a property for a certain period of time without the owner ejecting them, the person can exercise title over the land, according to legal websites.

A Sheriff’s Office investigator estimated that Brehm and Parks caused $25,000 worth of damages to the home while living in it, according to the affidavit. A construction trailer and its unspecified contents found in the driveway were reported stolen in Carbondale and valued at $30,000.

Deputies also found a 2007 Suzuki motorcycle in the garage that was reported stolen in Glenwood Springs in September. The men also allegedly drove a Ford Explorer registered to the owner of the Mountain Laurel home, the affidavit states.

Finally, Brehm had heroin in his pocket when he was arrested, while deputies found at least two other stashes of the drug at the home, according to the affidavit.

Brehm was charged with theft between $20,000 and $100,000, criminal mischief, first-degree trespassing, possession of a weapon by a previous offender and two counts of aggravated motor vehicle theft. All are felonies.

On Monday, a prosecutor told Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely that Brehm had three prior felony convictions including burglary, was on probation for at least one of those and had active warrants both in Colorado and outside the state’s borders. Fernandez-Ely ordered Brehm held in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

Parks was charged with theft between $20,000 and $100,000, criminal mischief, possession of a controlled substance, criminal trespassing and aggravated motor vehicle theft, also all felonies.

Parks has no felony criminal record and was ordered held in lieu of a $5,000 bond.

Prosecutor Don Nottingham also said he planned to file felony burglary charges against the two men.

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