Man in court on gun charges

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A Louisville man arrested on charges that he hid two firearms near Spring Creek Trail appeared in court Tuesday. He told the judge he feared for his life and needed the guns but did not think the guns would endanger others.

Chadwick Lee Wells, 36, was charged with possession of a weapon by a previous offender, a Class 6 felony, and reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor. Wells' previous felony conviction was for first-degree criminal trespassing.

Wells' two charges could be reduced.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James told Routt County Judge James Garrecht that his office had made a settlement offer but that Wells first had to talk with his attorney in Boulder to be sure it did not conflict with another case in which Wells is involved.

Garrecht continued the hearing until July 14, but before Wells left, Wells gave Garrecht more background on his story and discussed the settlement offer, which Wells said would decrease the charges to two misdemeanors.

Wells said he got the firearms because he was "in fear" for his life and that when he hid the loaded guns off Spring Creek Trail, he did not think that a person could find them and hurt themselves or someone else.

Wells' charges stem from a June 4 incident when, on a tip from Wells' companion, police found a .22-caliber Marlin Rifle and a Bryco Arms .25-caliber semi-automatic handgun about five yards from the well-traveled trail and in plain view, according to police reports.

Each of the firearms had a round in the chamber, and a black sack of ammunition was sitting next to the guns.

Wells and his companion, Cyndi Johnson, 39, had gone to the Steamboat Springs Police Department on Friday worried that they were being followed. Wells told police the Mexican mafia had been following them and trying to kill them for eight years because a mafia leader thought Wells provided information that sent him to jail, according to police reports.

At the end of the conversation at the police department, Wells asked whether he could purchase a firearm legally even though he was a convicted felon, and police said he could not. Later, Johnson returned and told police Wells had hidden the firearms.

The police found the firearms and arrested Wells.

Wells' case is continued until 1:30 p.m. July 14 for a status conference in Routt County Court.

-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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