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Robbery suspects held on $100,000 bond

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By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

The two men suspected of robbing a Carbondale convenience store at gunpoint on Feb. 16, and then leading area law enforcement officials on a two-day chase through the back-country near Basalt, remain in the Garfield County Jail while awaiting trial on charges of armed robbery.
The two men, Nicholas Ameral and Benjamin Weeks, who are cousins and both 19 years old, were arrested on Feb. 22 during a traffic stop in Basalt.
Ameral, who also was arrested on a warrant for alleged failure to comply (FTC) with a court order in a previous case, was scheduled to appear in court March 2 in Glenwood Springs about the FTC warrant.
Both men, however, are due to be in court on March 8 to be presented with the formal charges against them. Court files on the cases indicate that neither man has an attorney representing him, at this point in the proceedings, according to a check with the Ninth Judicial Court office.
Both are being held in lieu of payment of bonds set by a judge at $100,000 apiece.
Paperwork filed so far in the case indicates that police, after interviewing the clerks on duty the night of the robbery at the Cowen Center convenience store, started looking for Ameral and his older brother, Matthew Ameral, 23.
Carbondale police had put out a “be on the lookout” or BOLO alert about the suspects, and an officer with the Basalt police had responded, informing Carbondale that the two Ameral brothers were known in Basalt.
The Basalt officer said the pair had once lived in Basalt, but had moved to Carbondale.
Police found an address for Nicholas Ameral and, after viewing security videotapes from another convenience store in Carbondale, the 7-Eleven, CPD Officer Randy Rodgers concluded that Nicholas Ameral had been to the 7-Eleven earlier on the night of the robbery, and that his appearance on that video matched the description given by the Cowen Center store clerks.
Police on Feb. 17 went to the Carbondale address given for Nicholas Ameral, where they found the men’s mother. The woman told police that Matthew Ameral lived with her and had nothing to do with the robbery, but that Nicholas Ameral’s cousin, Benjamin Weeks, had recently arrived from California and had been “hanging out” with Nicholas, according to court documents.
The mother also told police that Nicholas Ameral and Weeks had slept on her floor on Feb. 16, after arriving at her home at about 11 p.m., and police say they found a magazine for a 9 mm Glock handgun (the same kind of gun as was used in the robbery) on the floor near where the pair were sleeping that night.
Police also interviewed two local women who had been videotaped at the same time as Nicholas Ameral at the 7-Eleven, and who admitted driving Ameral and Weeks around the night of Feb. 16 and dropping them off late that night, at a spot about five minutes’ walk from the Cowen Center store.
Carbondale police also contacted the police department at Tulare, Calif., the town where Weeks had been living before coming to Carbondale.
According to the Tulare police, as detailed in the affidavit for an arrest warrant, Weeks has a lengthy police record that includes arrests for fighting, having a knife at school, residential burglary and having marijuana at school.
Ameral, too, has a criminal record, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The CBI records indicate Ameral has been arrested and convicted on charges of possessing marijuana, as well as charges of menacing and contributing to the deliquency of a minor by providing that minor with alcohol.
Based on the information gathered following the robbery, police issued warrants for the arrest of Nicholas Ameral and Weeks. The two subsequently were spotted on a RFTA bus near Snowmass Village, on Feb. 21.
Police hoped to arrest the men on the bus when it neared Basalt, but the pair allegedly eluded capture by jumping out of an emergency window at the back of the bus when it stopped near the Holland Hills subdivision.
Ameral and Weeks were arrested the next day, Feb. 22, during a traffic stop in Basalt, involving a vehicle that police said was “associated” with the two suspects. The men were discovered hiding in the car, and police indicated that the driver of the car, who was not identified, was not arrested at that time but might face charges later.
The two had spent the night of Feb. 21-22 outside, and one of them was taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs for treatment of symptoms from exposure.

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Published in The Sopris Sun on March 2, 2017.