Two men sentenced for drunken crime spree around Eagle County
March 7, 2014
EAGLE — Two men who admitted they got drunk and robbed their way up Cottonwood Pass will go to prison.
Robert Lee Larsen and Tony Kelly, both 33 and from Glenwood Springs, were sentenced to state prison after they pleaded guilty to stealing two vehicles and a motorcycle, and trying to set one of them on fire.
Larsen, the ringleader, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Kelly will serve eight.
Larsen has six prior felony convictions and was on parole. Kelly had five adult felony convictions, said prosecutor Joe Kirwan, and was on bond for a felony conviction.
Larsen’s attorney even agreed to the 12-year sentence, offering no argument for a shorter prison term for his client.
“There is no excuse for what I’ve done,” Larsen said at his sentencing. “I’ve done it in the past, and I have an alcohol problem. I threw away three and a half years in an alcohol program.”
His sobriety began Feb. 10, 2010, and ended June 4, 2013, which is also the period he was in prison and community corrections. Larsen was on parole when he pulled this caper.
Kelly’s attorney, Burt Levin, argued passionately that community corrections would better serve his client and the community. Kelly was working as a heavy equipment operator and could keep working if he was sentenced to community corrections.
Kelly’s employer would even arrange transportation, Levin said.
“I want to keep from being around the Larsens of the world, to be close to my family and be a contributing member of society,” Kelly said during his sentencing.
Larsen was driving and Kelly got in the car at Larsen’s invitation, thinking he was going on a “joy ride,” Levin said.
Kelly didn’t know Larsen had stolen the car when he got in it, Levin said. The car got a flat tire on a dirt road, so Larsen decided to steal a Jeep and some guns from a home on the Eagle County side of Cottonwood Pass road, Levin said.
“My client was intoxicated and was just along for the ride,” Levin said.
In handing down Kelly’s eight-year sentence, Chief District Court Judge Thomas Moorhead said he studied the level of supervision Kelly would need, along with Kelly’s low self-control, antisocial companions and antisocial behavior.
Larsen’s criminal background stretches back to 1999, beginning with drug charges. Among the highlights are numerous contempt of court and flight charges, dangerous drug charges, a 2006 parole violation, vehicular assault in 2007, habitual traffic offender and reckless endangerment in 2010.
On the afternoon of the incident, Eagle County sheriff’s deputies and the Colorado State Patrol were called to a rollover accident on Cottonwood Pass Road south of Gypsum. The rollover involved two vehicles, a Jeep and an Audi.
Larsen was intoxicated when he wrecked the Jeep, police said. He was ejected from the Jeep and seriously injured. In fact, at his first court appearance he wore a hospital gown over his orange jail clothes.
The wrecked Jeep had been stolen from a residence on Cottonwood Pass Road.
Nearby, police found the Audi stashed in tall sagebrush that the two had tried to set on fire before fleeing the scene. That Audi had been stolen earlier that day in Glenwood Springs, police said, and that’s the car Larsen was driving when he picked up Kelly.
When police searched the wrecked Jeep they found several firearms and a small motorcycle that had also been stolen in the Cottonwood Pass area.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.