$100,000 fine for Vail altercation: District Attorney wants it rescinded, defense attorney wants it to stand
October 3, 2017
EAGLE — An attorney from Mexico will decide whether he wants to pay the largest fine in Eagle County history or just a huge fine and the tab for possible ongoing medical expenses.
Paris Aguilera Baeza could be fined $100,000, stemming from an assault last year in the Sebastian Vail hotel. Because Aguilera Baeza lives in Mexico, it would be impractical for him to serve probation, and the huge fine was a way to offset that, prosecutors said earlier this year when they struck the $100,000 deal. Those prosecutors no longer work for the district attorney's office.
During a District Court hearing Monday, Oct. 2, District Attorney Bruce Brown said he wants to rescind that $100,000 deal and replace it with a different plea deal — pay a $25,000 fine, plead guilty to felony menacing and Aguilera Baeza would pay medical expenses for Jason Blick, the man injured during an altercation in a Sebastian hotel hallway in January 2017.
Jim Fahrenholtz, Aguilera Baeza's local attorney, said he and his client waived their right to a speedy trial based on that offer, and therefore, the district attorney's office cannot legally rescind it.
"It seems simple, quite honestly," Fahrenholtz said.
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"We don't think the plea agreement is enforceable," Brown told District Court Judge Russell Granger.
Blick's medical expenses are up to $25,000 and climbing, Brown said. Colorado's restitution laws give Blick up to 90 days after sentencing to submit medical expenses for which he would seek reimbursement.
Brown said he does not want the DA's office to give the mistaken impression that wealthy people can pay their way out of trouble with huge fines. That's not true, he said.
"I will admit this is not an enviable position to be in," Brown told Granger.
If the whole thing falls apart, then Aguilera Baeza could still take it to trial.
"We have a great case," Fahrenholtz said.
So far, Aguilera Baeza has not entered any sort of plea, Fahrenholtz said. He has already put $25,000 into an escrow account to be used toward the fines. He said he would have to sell a house in Miami to pay the $100,000 fine. He's back in Judge Granger's court Nov. 13.
Aguilera Baeza is not a flight risk, Fahrenholtz said. He has legally traveled back and forth between Mexico and the United States more than 150 times in his life.
What police say happened
The altercation started around 11 p.m. on a January weekend night, when Vail police responded to a report of a man knocked unconscious during a fight at Vail’s Sebastian hotel.
Blick’s girlfriend, who was staying with him at The Sebastian, told police she heard a woman screaming in the hallway. She asked Blick to help the woman, and after he left the room, she closed the hotel room door, according to the police report.
She said she looked through her door’s peephole and saw Aguilera Baeza and a woman pass the room. She said she opened the door, looked out in the opposite direction and saw Blick lying on the floor, according to the report.
Police were told that Blick tackled Aguilera Baeza. Somehow, Aguilera Baeza wrapped Blick in a martial arts hold called a “rear naked choke hold,” where the aggressor’s forearm is wrapped around the victim’s trachea.
Police arrived moments later and found Aguilera Baeza in a hotel room, lying under the covers in one of two children’s beds.
Aguilera Baeza originally faced attempted murder charges.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.