District Attorney Bonnie Roesink: Newspaper distorted facts of Sweet Pea case

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It is unbelievable that the Steamboat Pilot & Today has chosen to report the story concerning the burglary at the Sweet Pea Produce on a holiday weekend without ever checking the facts of the case with the District Attorney's Office.

Instead, they chose to rely on local defense attorneys and victims who have totally changed their position.

These are the facts, according to the police reports that were filed with the District Attorney's Office.

The two defendants were seen by a concerned citizen and his family. One of the defendants searched the "Dumpster" in front of the store, and the other defendant urinated on the building. The citizen saw the two men walk to the back of the building, where they were looking through the fence at the interior of the business. The two jumped over the fence into the business.

The concerned citizen reported the burglary in progress to the police department. Three police officers arrived and contacted the defendants in the back of the business. They were carrying a bag of fruits and vegetables. They told the officers that they were just digging through the trash. The officers contacted the owner of the business, Katherine Zambrana.

She responded to the scene and looked through the bag of produce. She said, "These all came from inside of the store. ... This is not old stuff, I didn't throw this out."

She then looked through a box next to the trash can and said, "That fruit they had didn't come from here ... even if it did, we still sell this for animal food."

Zambrana then looked around and noticed a tape measure and a utility knife lying (sic) on the ground next to a shed in the grassy area of the yard. She stated, "These aren't supposed to be here, either. I put these back next to the other tools."

Zambrana then went to the front of the business with the officers and commented that the gate was ajar and not in its original place. Inside the business, she noticed a sign on the floor that had been knocked over and missing items from an open-face cooler. She stated that the items in the bag were all located together in that cooler. She also told police that the bag the defendants were carrying were all located inside the store and not outside.

Officers have no obligation to ask victims whether they want to press charges, but the officers did ask Zambrana what she wanted to see happen. She stated, "I want to press charges ... all the way."

She not only told the officers that she wanted to press charges, but she also filled out a statement form in her own handwriting that says: "Katherine Zambrana, owner of Sweet Pea Market, would like to press charges for theft. Stolen fresh produce. Also attempted to steal tools. (This produce came from inside our locked store). Urinating on my place of business. Fresh produce - $15 estimated worth."

Police officers do not arrest suspects for burglary unless they have probable cause to think that they have entered the building and committed a crime. The reports were reviewed by Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James, who not only believed that there was probable cause but also that he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial that the crime of burglary had been committed.

When a victim of a crime does not wish to follow through with the prosecution, he or she is asked to fill out a written form with the District Attorney's Office, and that form is placed in the case file. The owners of the store never expressed a wish to drop the prosecution, and there is no written form in the file.

If this case could not have been proven as a burglary, or even if it had been a weak case, the case would not have been taken to trial. These defendants were evidently advised by several attorneys that they should take the misdemeanor plea offer rather than go to trial. The court always has the option of rejecting any plea offer. The court rejects stipulated sentences for a number of reasons, including a sentence that is too lenient or too harsh.

One of the defendants had $402.20 in his pockets, and the other one had $108.50 in his possession when they were arrested on a Monday night around 8:30 p.m. They were not starving and penniless as they have been portrayed. As the District Attorney, I have a mandate to protect the safety and property of the citizens of Moffat, Routt and Grand counties.

Kerry St. James has been a prosecutor for 25 years. He has been a tremendous advocate for the rights of all victims in this district for 19 years, and I have complete confidence in his abilities in general and in this particular case. A complete set of the police reports that document these facts are available for anyone in the public at the District Attorney's Office.

Comments

remysmith 8 years, 3 months ago

As expected, a spirited defense of her subordinate. Unfortunately what it doesn't say is just as important. It clearly suggests that justice in the Roesink / St. James regime is static and unresponsive when new information comes to light. It never addresses the issues raised yesterday and only reiterates what's "in the record."

What did Roesink say yesterday? That victim's input was unimportant in this instance. That the victim(s) may have committed a crime themselves based on how they reported to police. Through one of her supporters, Police Captain Del Valle, that a local criminal defense attorney didn't understand the law. And, finally, St. James' refusal to take any responsibility for the ensuing confusion with the victims in an otherwise sad case of justice gone sour. Nothing but an unresponsive restatement of now stale facts.

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jonathon 8 years, 3 months ago

Hey, DA Roesink were is the mention of my phone conversation with ADA St. James that clearly states I did'nt agree with the punishment choices. And, we changed our position because we changed our mind after a complete inspection of the store and after being extremly upset at the thought of being riped off, which we were not. We do have a right to change our minds, or is that a crime to? Jonathon Hieb

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remysmith 8 years, 3 months ago

The Letter Roesink Should Have Written:

"I know this situation has drawn attention, and will continue to do so for some time. But I wanted to explain, from the DA's perspective how we got here. At the time the police received the report, it was believed to be a burglary. Once police arrived, and based on evidence from the storeowners that Charle and Siller likely entered the store, the police made a burglary felony arrest.

"Once Mr. St. James' office received the reports, he moved quickly to file the felony charges which he believed to be supported by the facts.

"Because neither Charle or Siller had a record, the ADA proposed, through their attorney, a plea deal where they could elect to plead to a deferred felony burglary charge or a misdemeanor charge with 6 months of jail. The two defendants, with full knowledge of their actions, and the opportunity to consult with counsel, took the misdemeanor conviction instead of the felony. Throughout the process they also could have gone to trial on the felony charge. This is the usual approach used in plea bargaining throughout the state of Colorado.

"Unfortunately, it was at this point that communication broke down between the victim(s) and the ADA's office. When Mr. Heib contacted Mr. St. James after hearing of the plea bargain, he expressed strong reservations about the results. Our office bears responsibility for this. We did not ask the right questions of Mr. Heib, which should have included questions about why he did not complete the follow-on witness statements AND why he was contacting us this late in the process. Had we been more sensitive to his needs it is likely that justice would have been better served, not only for Charle and Siller, but also for the community. For this I assume full responsibility.

"Only over the holiday weekend did we become fully aware that other factors should have influenced our decisions. Only today have all the parties been in a room together where we have had an opportunity to hear all sides, first-hand. Given this additional information, and in conjunction with Mr. St. James and Charle and Siller's attorney, we will consider what legal alternatives and remedies are available."

Commentary: Clearly, this is not perfect, and unlikely given the current regime, but certainly better than the shrill and defensive approach Roesink has taken. Fortunately for the 14th Judicial District she highlighted the arrogance and intransigence in an office pledged to serve the community and the interests of justice. If the ADA's steamroller approach is business-as-usual (which it is), Roesink must let St. James go. If she does not remove St. James, by whatever appropriate means, she should be recalled.

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jrsantucci 8 years, 3 months ago

wow....wow... unbelievable. this case is incredible. 6 months for taking rotten produce out of the trash. i hope the d.a.'s office and the police dept. go after all the other hard criminals we have passing thru this town to send a message of zero tolerance. you know who you are. the jaywalkers, kids riding their skateboards on the sidewalks, people filling up their gas tanks and driving off. 6 months for everybody!
i am totally embarrassed by the actions of our d.a.'s office for trying to "make an example" of these two. i hope they sleep better at night knowing they got these hardened criminals off the street. the next time you take 2 newspapers out of the rack, you better beware. the d.a is watching.

p.s. how much is it going to cost the taxpayers of routt county to house these young men for 6 months anyway?

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jeffphayden 8 years, 3 months ago

I have been following this whole story and frankly this is absurd and a waste of taxpayers money!! As a resident of New York City who loves to ski I can assure that I will never ski in Steamboat Springs again. I am also urging my co-workers and fellow skiers in the New York Metro to do the same! If this kind of justice is being served to average middle class citizens I can't imagine what is happening to the homeless or less fortunate individuals that remove discarded food from a garbage container in order to survive!

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None 8 years, 3 months ago

Summery of Bonnie,s Statement. We did not have all the facts. We did not want all the facts. We do not make mistakes. We will do whatever we want. Kerry is a good boy and i'll back him up whenever he is wrong. The "public" doesn't know anything. She was elected??

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John_Ashby 8 years, 3 months ago

What about the ADULT MALE attacking the 16yr old FEMALE on the mountain and getting a slap on the wrist. When did taking fruit become more of a crime then assult and child abuse.

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butterat42 8 years, 3 months ago

There is no justice in the 14th Judicial District and that is the result of the arrogance and incompetence of District Attorney Bonnie Roesink and her subordinate Asst. Distict Attorney Kerry James. If there had been any doubt before, their comments at yesterday's meeting confirmed it. I would ask Det. Captain Del Valle is it possible to amend a police report in light of additional facts and information?

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flipside 8 years, 3 months ago

Why didn't you prosecute Bill Kidd, then, Bonnie????? He committed basically the same crime, you flaming hypocrite!!! He went into a closed food store and took something without paying.

Get off your high horse. Yours is an indefensible position and no amount of blaming the messenger is going to help you out. We read right through that worthless screeching.

And what about your special Assistant DA St. James???? ... Do you approve of him co-habitating with a subbordinate?

He is an attorney who is so well thought of that the local nominating committee went all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court to keep his name off the judges list - FIRST TIME IN HISTORY, Bonnie. Yeah, he's a GREAT guy ...

You're a shrill, hypocritical, disconnected DA who should be removed ... and that's a reality that is fast approaching.

Get rid of Kerry, or say goodbye to your job. If you keep Kerry, either you will be recalled or you will be voted out.

You decide because we, the people, CERTAINLY will.

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Fastman 8 years, 3 months ago

All this local political situation stuff is giving me a headache.

I live in CA, have never been to Steamboat Springs, and most likely will never go there.

The 2 men did something stupid, the owner did something dumb, and the ADA did something to top them both: he prosecuted, with prejudice & vigor, a case that could have, and should have, never even gotten to trial.

The DA then went along with the deal, and is now, even after all the facts are in, and realizes that an error in judgement was made by her office, still supports the prosecution & the sentence? Incredibile.

Here is a copy of an e-mail that I sent to madam DA yesterday, 09/05/2006:

Madam,

Well, the fat is in the fire now, eh? St. James went a tad over the top in his prosecution of the two men, and the sentence is, as it stands now, absurd to the rest of the US & costly to your county.

I grant you that with all the media attention the story brings with it, most all of it is negative. Is that the way to lure tourists to Steamboat Springs?

I know that "Justice" is blindfolded, but I am not.

Fastener City, Inc. has, at my direction, added your town to an internal company list of vacation spots to be avoided by its employees.

I will also communicate the outrageous conduct of your office to all of our clients, cautioning them about the apparent lack of judicial prudence in your township.

Respectfully, Mr. S. Edward Mead President, CEO Fastener City, Inc.


Thanks for your time. S. Edward Mead

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montysimmons 8 years, 3 months ago

I assume that Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink authored the following diatribe. Lets go through this diatribe one section at a time.

[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "It is unbelievable that the Steamboat Pilot & Today has chosen to report the story concerning the burglary at the Sweet Pea Produce on a holiday weekend without ever checking the facts of the case with the District Attorney's Office."

What is more unbelievable is that a couple of power giddied Nazis prosecuted two men for burglary without getting all the facts.


[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "Instead, they chose to rely on local defense attorneys and victims who have totally changed their position."

No, instead they talked to the owner of Sweet Pea Produce who is in the position to offer the best evidence as to what, if anything was stolen from the store.


[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "These are the facts, . . ."

All your so called facts, "da Nazi", are irrelevant as the owner of the store has stated you're so called facts have not been updated with more accurate "facts." It appears you wish to ignore the FACT that the initial position and comments from the "victim" have been recanted, you jerk. See statement below: "Hey, DA Roesink were is the mention of my phone conversation with ADA St. James that clearly states I did'nt agree with the punishment choices. And, we changed our position because we changed our mind after a complete inspection of the store and after being extremely upset at the thought of being ripped off, which we were not. We do have a right to change our minds, or is that a crime to? Jonathon Hieb"


[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "Police officers do not arrest suspects for burglary unless they have probable cause to think that they have entered the building and committed a crime."

What are you implying; that being arrested is evidence of guilt? The Police did exactly what they should have done. It is you, da Nazi, who screwed up. Any one can be arrested, and thus, being arrested is not evidence of guilt, you idiot.


Continued in next comment.

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montysimmons 8 years, 3 months ago

[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "The reports were reviewed by Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James, who not only believed that there was probable cause but also that he could prove beyond a reasonable doubt at a trial that the crime of burglary had been committed."

Right, Superman St. James can convenience a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, that two men stole from Sweet Pea Produce when the owner of Sweet Pea Produce will testify, on the Defendant's behalf, that nothing was stole and that his store was not burglarized. You are delusional or you must really have a low opinion of the intelligence of your local citizens.


[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "When a victim of a crime does not wish to follow through with the prosecution, he or she is asked to fill out a written form with the District Attorney's Office, and that form is placed in the case file. The owners of the store never expressed a wish to drop the prosecution, and there is no written form in the file."

Duh, see above statement by Jonathon Hieb, does that count. I know such statement is not timely but I suspect a similar one was.


[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "If this case could not have been proven as a burglary, or even if it had been a weak case, the case would not have been taken to trial. These defendants were evidently advised by several attorneys that they should take the misdemeanor plea offer rather than go to trial. The court always has the option of rejecting any plea offer. The court rejects stipulated sentences for a number of reasons, including a sentence that is too lenient or too harsh."

All these statements are irrelevant and some are simply not true.

(1) You had no chance of proving your burglary case, beyond a reason doubt, when the "victim" is willing to testify on the defendant's behalf that nothing was stolen; (2) Attorneys give bad advice all the time; and (3) The court apparently had no reason to suspect the extent of your treachery.


[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "One of the defendants had $402.20 in his pockets, and the other one had $108.50 in his possession when they were arrested on a Monday night around 8:30 p.m. They were not starving and penniless as they have been portrayed."

Even if true, such information is irrelevant.


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montysimmons 8 years, 3 months ago

[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] As the District Attorney, I have a mandate to protect the safety and property of the citizens of Moffat, Routt and Grand counties.

There you go. All tyrants eventually warp themselves in the Constitution or the "public good" argument when all else fails.

A warning to the citizens of Steamboat: Tyrants do not wake up on day and say: "You know, I think I will stop being a Nazi tyrant today." That does not happen. Such people simply look for new victims and new ways to abuse their power. Someone will be "da Nazi's" next victim and it could be you or you child.

Vote them out of power as soon as possible.

[Bonnie "da Nazi" Roesink] "Kerry St. James has been a prosecutor for 25 years. He has been a tremendous advocate for the rights of all victims in this district for 19 years, and I have complete confidence in his abilities in general and in this particular case. A complete set of the police reports that document these facts are available for anyone in the public at the District Attorney's Office."

Another version of the Superman St. James defense. Even if true everyone makes mistakes.

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John_Ashby 8 years, 3 months ago

Steamboat Springs - A 52-year-old Littleton man was arrested Sunday on suspicion of repeatedly punching a 16-year-old girl in the head and neck after a collision at Steamboat Ski Area.

Police Capt. Joel Rae said the 16-year-old Steamboat Springs girl said she was snowboarding down Headwall ski trail when she ran over the skis of an 8-year-old girl. Both girls were knocked to the ground.

Randell Berg, the father of the 8-year-old, saw the collision and confronted the 16-year-old, Rae said. At that point, Berg is thought to have punched the teenager several times in the head and neck and to have shouted profanities at her, Rae said.

The 16-year-old told police she was wearing a helmet, and she was not seriously injured. She said she was sore from the alleged attack.

Witnesses intervened and restrained Berg, police said. Witnesses also confirmed the 16-year-old's story, police said.

Rae said police interviewed Berg before arresting him. Berg told police that after he made sure his daughter was OK, "he just lost control when his daughter got hit," Rae said.

The accident occurred near the base of the ski mountain, where Steamboat Springs police have jurisdiction.

Rae said he has never heard of such an incident.

"We have fights all the time, but this is ridiculous," Rae said.

Berg was taken to Routt County Jail and booked on charges of third-degree assault and disorderly conduct. He was released Monday on $1,000 bond. He is scheduled to appear in Routt County Court on Feb. 14.

Berg agreed to plea guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault. In exchange for the guilty plea, Jensen told Garrecht that Berg would serve one year of unsupervised probation, take at least eight hours of anger management classes, perform 80 hours of community service and serve a two-day jail sentence.

How is it that this guy gets a slap on the wrist and two RF members go to jail.

It just might be time to find a new place to raise my child.

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starrastarollingwaters 8 years, 3 months ago

DRUG TESTING FOR ALL NOT JUST DRUG OFFENDERS? I am very concerned with Routt County Judge's, District Attorney's and Probation Officer's who are making convicted "NON-DRUG" offenders with NO previous criminal history take DRUG tests! WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY FOR ALL! Is this Discrimination? What is wrong with our LOCAL GOVERNMENT? Do they not have anything better to with our tax dollars? Or is there a "monoploized" private company, possibly owned by a local "person" that the courts are sending business to? FYI ! The tests only show marijuana use unless the person is addicted to a drug they use daily, because most substances leave the body within 24 hours!

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qmpash 8 years, 3 months ago

I do not live in Colorado but read this unbelievable story on the web in New Jersey where I live. What the DA didn't tell you in her "explanation" is that the defendants were facing a felony charge if they didn't "agree" to a plea bargain. DA's are anxious to get a high-conviction rate and do so with a plea-bargain, which guarantees them victory. If the defendants had chosen to defend themselves in front of a jury, you can bet that the DA would have tried to throw the book at them. DA's can handle multiple cases via plea bargains in the time that it takes to prosecute one case in front of a jury. This involves time, money, staff, and research and there is no guarantee of a jury verdict of guilty. DA's have everything to lose and nothing to gain by trying a case in front of a jury.

Under the present system of justice, the defendants were not allowed to exercise their Constitutional right to defend themselves in court, not denied by law exactly, but in fact. That is the true miscarriage of justice in this case.

Herb Kaufman

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intowner 8 years, 3 months ago

Herb:

Don't let the last post fool you. Bonnie Roesink couldn't try her way out of a paperbag - in fact she recently lost a couple of preliminary hearings because she didn't have her ducks in a row... To the contrary, she delegates everything to her assistants and deputies, including Kerry St. James who handled the "Sweet Pea 2". He is a vindictive and hypocritical man who picks and chooses who he prosecutes based on his own prejudices. There is no equality of justice in Steamboat.

"379664" is the wife of a police officer who blindly follows and "supports" everything done not only by law enforcement but Mr. St. James (and Ms. Roesink). Ironically, no one has every said that the police mishandled this situation. It went tragically wrong when Mr. St. James replaced his hatred of the Rainbow Family with common sense (and concealed exculpatory information provided to him by the victims)

However, please don't let this farce of the justice system prejudice you against the other people of Steamboat Springs (including the police dept.)

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Hadleyburg_Press 8 years, 3 months ago

Numbers, The perps in this case were innocent until proven guilty regardless of what the victim said and you know it. Your vitriol against the Rainbow Gathering has clouded your better judgement. We will never know what evidence the DA held against these two because the case did not go to trial. The ADA vigoriously prosecuted this case based upon what appears to be a bias against the Rainbow Gathering if one accepts Mr. Hieb's hearsay. I don't know what the truth is. I do feel that justice has been served when one considers the apparent crime and the threat to our community. I cannot speak to the motives of the victims, but I do feel that St. James had an obligation to weigh their initial professed tort and then the recanting of said tort once they presumable reevaluated the evidence. The Rainbow has faded and our community is still intact so lets all get back to enjoying the good life.

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