Teen given 90 days in jail for marijuana explosion in Steamboat Springs


— A Clark teen was sentenced to 90 days in jail Monday for a June explosion that occurred in Steamboat Springs while he and another teen were making a concentrated form of marijuana called earwax.

The Routt County District Attorney's Office had filed five felony charges against Zachary Slater. As part of a plea deal, the 19-year-old pleaded guilty to fourth-degree arson, a Class 4 felony, and illegal weapon possession, a Class 1 misdemeanor.


Zachary Slater

On the arson charge, Slater received a deferred judgment, meaning the charge will be dismissed if he successfully completes three years of supervised probation.

Slater originally was charged with conspiring to make marijuana concentrate, a Class 5 felony. He also was charged with four more serious Class 4 felonies. Those charges were manufacturing marijuana concentrate, fourth-degree arson, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of a controlled substance. The possession of a controlled substance charge is related to more than 4 grams of mushrooms that police reportedly found while executing a search warrant at the condo.

Another teen, who was 17 years old when the explosion occurred, was sentenced in February to 40 days in jail. He originally was charged with conspiracy to manufacture marijuana concentrate, a Class 5 felony, and fourth-degree arson, a Class 4 felony. As part of a plea deal, the juvenile pleaded guilty to fourth-degree arson and also was given a deferred judgement. The charge will be dismissed if he completes one year of probation.

The explosion occurred at a unit in the Pines Condominiums. It shook the building and shattered and knocked out windows. The juvenile who was charged was flown to a Denver hospital to be treated for injuries and was released two days later.

The two teens who were charged could have to pay thousands of dollars for the damage caused by the explosion.

The process of making marijuana concentrate can be dangerous. The teens were using butane, and a Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue official said the vapors could have been ignited by a pilot light.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 1 month ago

What is messed up in the local DA's dept is the filing of charges vs the final outcome.

Charged with 5 felonies and settles for 90 days with a deferred judgment so no felony record after 1 year if can stay out of trouble. The now 18 year old also had a stack of felonies filed and got 40 days with a a deferred judgment.

The DA's office says they won't plea felonies down to misdemeanors. So instead they plea down a stack of felonies to a single charge and agree to make that a deferred judgment. Thus, the "nonnegotiable" felony won't even show up on the person's record in a year. I guess our DA office has mastered the art of talking loudly and carrying a small stick.


Dan Hill 3 years, 1 month ago

Scott Wedel - I'm not entirely sure what your point is, but it looks like you think the DA should have taken the defendants to trial and held out for harsher sentences.

I actually think these sentences are appropriate and reasonable. They did something incredibly stupid, and they are going to do some jail time. But let's not ruin the lives of these young men for all time, at least not before we give them a chance to prove they've learned their lessons.

Remember, our society tells these young men they aren't mature enough to drink alcohol. We can't have it both ways. If we really believe that they lack the judgement to have a beer, we need to cut them a little slack when they exercise that bad judgement in other areas.


Scott Wedel 3 years, 1 month ago


I agree that the results in this case seem reasonable. No intent of doing harm and no indication of drug dealing, but was reckless and could have easily hurt other people.

My point is that the DA's office is grossly overcharging people and then accepting pleas far lesser than charged.

This is a bad practice because it leaves no one in the area having any respect for the original charges in a case. Defense attorneys tell their clients that the DA is making big threats that they cannot back up. It also tends to create an unfair local justice system where defendants with the resources to not settle until the eve of trial get much better pleas than those that need to settle and move on.

Charging an 18 year old for contributing to the delinquency of a 17 year old friend is a farce that no jury anywhere is going to convict.


jerry carlton 3 years, 1 month ago

I am with Oz. Dan might feel different if he had a condo in the same building .Why was restitution not part of the sentence? Guess this was a case where pot was not safer than alcohol although both destroy lives.


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