Alleged Aspen fugitive now faces 51 years
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Seven minutes on the lam could result in 51 years behind bars for Warren C. Carter.
Carter appeared Tuesday before Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely, who advised him that prosecutors plan to charge him with the class-three felony of escape. Carter showed up in normal orange jail clothing, but also was shackled at the waste, a preventive measure as a result of his alleged behavior Monday.
As many as four deputies attended yesterday’s advisement, held a day after Carter, 45, allegedly bolted from the Pitkin County Courthouse in response to District Judge James Boyd’s delivery of a three-year prison sentence for the conviction of a 2008 theft of copper wire from The Residences at The Little Nell.
At Tuesday’s advisement hearing Carter, without an attorney, sat silently as Judge Fernandez-Ely told him that if he’s convicted of the escape charge, he could spend up to 12 years in prison. He also faces a mandatory minimum of four years behind bars, which would run consecutively – not concurrently – with the three-year sentence handed to him Monday. Even if he posts the $10,000 the bond set by the judge, Carter would not be allowed to leave because of the three-year sentence.
But three years could just be the beginning for Carter, who has also used the aliases of Joshua Blassing, Joshua Blessing, Anthony Dane, Anthony Hill and Wesley D. Rolison over the years, according to court records.
Prosecutor Arnold Mordkin, in an interview, said he also intends to file a habitual criminal charge as a “sentencing enhancer.” That’s because prior to Monday’s alleged escape, Carter had five felony convictions. They date as far back as a December 1989 burglary arrest in Pitkin County, which led to guilty plea, Colorado court records show.
According to Mordkin, if an habitual offender is convicted of a new felony, he or she is sentenced to four times the maximum prison term in the presumptive sentencing range. In the case of the escape charge, the maximum prison time is 12 years in the presumptive range. But with the habitual criminal count, it becomes 48 years. Add that to the three-year sentence delivered Monday, and Carter potentially could spend up to 51 years in the Department of Corrections.
On Monday, Mordkin said he wasn’t sure if he would charge Carter. He changed his tune Tuesday.
“If we didn’t prosecute folks who escape from custody or resist custody, then everybody would do it,” he said.
Mordkin was in the courtroom at the time Carter allegedly fled. He said he did not witness the alleged break-out, but “it was reported that he was running down the stairs.”
“That kind of flight could be very dangerous,” Mordkin said, “and would warrant a prosecution.”
He declined to comment about specifics of the alleged break-out, saying that “Mr. Carter is presumed innocent.”
More than two dozen separate cases have been filed against Carter in Colorado over the years – ranging from traffic offenses to felony forgery and burglary charges. He has been arrested or ticketed in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Eagle, Garfield and Jefferson counties, data shows.
According to arrest papers, Carter’s employment is listed as a concrete mason.
At the Monday hearing, Carter was not considered to be in custody until the judge delivered his sentence, officials said.
Boyd then instructed Carter to sit in the in-custody area in the courtroom until further notice; instead, he “walked quickly toward the door of the courtroom,” before running down the stairs and out of the west door of the courthouse, according to an affidavit in support of warrantless arrest, filed Tuesday by Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Levi Borst.
Carter was allegedly on the lam for about seven minutes before police and deputies captured him behind the Red Brick Center for the Arts in Aspen, officials said.