High Country Crime: A ‘deep-seated phobia of bears’ led to Aspen car theft | SummitDaily.com

High Country Crime: A ‘deep-seated phobia of bears’ led to Aspen car theft

Summit Daily staff report
news@summitdaily.com

A Delta County man who said he stole a car this fall in downtown Aspen because he was afraid of bears and had nowhere to stay will spend the next 18 months in a program that provides an alternative to prison.

Davey Naranjo, 34, pleaded guilty Tuesday, Jan.2, to aggravated motor vehicle theft in the case and will serve his time at Garfield County Community Corrections, a rules-intensive program in Rifle that offers therapy, work and life-skills training and job placement for convicted felons.

Naranjo admitted stealing the vehicle, which was parked behind New York Pizza with the keys inside, in October, according to court documents. He was caught almost immediately on North Eighth Street and told officers he "knew it was a bad idea" to take the car, the documents state.

Naranjo's lawyer, public defender Molly Owens, said in court Tuesday that her client holds "a deep-seated phobia of bears" and took the car that night to use as shelter for himself and his fiancée. Owens urged District Judge Chris Seldin to sentence Naranjo to supervised probation only, noting that he has worked at a local temp agency and could stay at Aspen's homeless shelter until he found housing.

Naranjo’s lawyer, public defender Molly Owens, said in court Tuesday that her client holds “a deep-seated phobia of bears” and took the car that night to use as shelter for himself and his fiancée.

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Prosecutor Sarah Oszczakiewicz, however, urged Seldin to sentence Naranjo to prison. She noted that his criminal history dates back more than 20 years and includes multiple felony convictions, stints on probation and a two-year prison sentence in Florida.

In addition, Naranjo has been using heroin, psychedelic mushrooms, cocaine, opiates and alcohol in the past six months, she said.

Oszczakiewicz also cast doubt on Naranjo's bear story, asking what he was doing in the alley at 11 p.m. and what he was doing in Aspen in general that late if he didn't have a place to stay.

Naranjo was also arrested in September and charged with misdemeanor trespassing after officers caught him and four other men squatting in the new Aspen Police Department building now under construction on Main Street.

-Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times

Alleged Vail marijuana dealer busted for trying to trade pot for Teller Sheriff's SUV

The Teller County Sheriff was trying to sell his personal SUV online, and an alleged Vail drug dealer tried to trade four pounds of black-market marijuana for it.

Shawn Langley, 39, of Vail, answered Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell's Craigslist ad for the personal vehicle Mikesell was trying to sell, according to Cmdr. Greg Couch, Teller County Sheriff's Office public information officer.

Instead of cash, Langley and accomplice Jane Cravens, also of Vail, offered Mikesell around four pounds of marijuana that Langley claimed was "high quality" and "organically grown," Mikesell told KDVR Denver.

"I received a text message one night suggesting that I trade my vehicle for marijuana," Mikesell said.

The marijuana is worth $1,500 a pound in Colorado. But outside Colorado, it could be worth $2,500 to $3,600 per pound.

Apparently, Langley did not know he was talking to the sheriff. He even texted pictures of the marijuana to Mikesell.

"It seems like our suspect was familiar with making trades on Craigslist," Mikesell said.

Detectives picked up on the opportunity immediately and set up a buy/bust to see if Langley was serious. Apparently, he was. Langley and Cravens were arrested in possession of approximately four pounds of marijuana.

"It was probably a surprise for both him and me from me receiving a text to how all this ended," Mikesell said. "It had a favorable ending for us, not so favorable for him."

Langley and Cravens are scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Monday, Jan. 8, in Teller County District Court.

Teller County is west of Colorado Springs.

-Randy Wyrick, Vail Daily

man who threatened police officer in Grand County faces multiple charges

The transient man arrested Dec. 30 for allegedly pulling a knife on a police officer has been identified as 59-year-old Christopher O'Donnell. O'Donnell is still in custody and is expected to make his first court appearance Jan. 9.

A Granby police officer spotted O'Donnell walking west on the sidewalk of Agate Avenue at around 11:15 a.m. Dec. 30. The officer had contacted O'Donnell a week prior to the incident regarding safety concerns due to inclement weather, according to a court affidavit.

The officer eventually made contact with O'Donnell attempting to offer "assistance to get him out of the mountains and to an area where there was shelter and resources." According to the officer, O'Donnell repeatedly stated that he lives in the area as the officer approached, eventually pulling a fixed-blade knife from his jacket and turning toward the officer.

The officer then drew his firearm and ordered O'Donnell to stop and drop the knife. O'Donnell ran north across the railroad tracks where the officer lost sight of him.

O'Donnell was tracked back to a makeshift shelter set up near the Granby Kum and Go, where O'Donnell was arrested by a Fraser-Winter Park police officer. O'Donnell told the officer that he had a problem with the Granby officer, but later apologized to the Granby Officer, according to the affidavit. Officers later recovered the knife he had brandished.

He has been charged with menacing, two counts of criminal attempt to commit assault in the second degree, and two counts of the crime of violence.

-Sawyer D'Argonne, Sky-Hi News