Embattled Aspen DA Makes Another Controversial Move

September 29 2005, 10:29 AM

Aspen DA Colleen Truden is teetering on a recall election. Just about everything she has done in her short time as elected District Attorney of the 9th District, which includes Pitkin, Garfield and Rio Blanco counties, has been controversial. In my opinion, she just stepped in it again. She has decided to charge a 14-year-old with first degree murder in the shooting death of an 11 year old. The boy says it was an accident. The Sheriff initially intended to file the case as manslaughter. Later, a decision was made to charge first degree murder. If convicted, he will get life without parole.

Truden submitted the charges as a direct filing, which under Colorado law allows prosecutors to send the case to district court. It avoids a transfer hearing in front of a judge who would decide whether or not to take the case out of juvenile court.

Even though the law doesn't require it, wouldn't the prudent thing for Truden have been to let the judge decide?

Paul Rosenthal, legislative director of the Colorado Springs-based Pendulum Foundation which works to change state laws to give some juveniles accused of violent offenses a second chance, said Stoneman shouldn't be sent away for life. "He needs to be held accountable. He did a terrible thing. But the best place for that is not adult prison." ....And you know how political this is. It's a very political decision. For a district attorney, for a well-publicized case, and she's facing her own recall now, this has to be a political decision. The person who should be making that decision (charging him as an adult) is a judge."

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