By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
The young man authorities believe wielded the gun in an armed robbery in Carbondale on Feb. 16, who also is wanted on charges of murder and other offenses related to a case in Las Vegas, Nevada, is expected to be tried in Colorado before being sent to Nevada for prosecution there, according to the deputy district attorney working on the robbery case.
Robbery suspect Benjamin Weeks remains in jail in Glenwood Springs, and Deputy DA Zac Parsons of the Ninth Judicial District said on May 1 that he was expecting soon to get a local trial date for Weeks.
Weeks and his cousin, Nicholas Ameral, both 19, were arrested on Feb. 22 following a massive days-long manhunt in the Basalt area.
The two allegedly had held up the Cowen Center convenience store in north Carbondale, threatening the store’s personnel with a gun and then fleeing on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The two have been in the Garfield County Jail ever since their arrest, and while bond for both men was set at $100,000 apiece, Ameral’s bond had been reduced to $50,000 by May 1.
Both are charged with several felonies related to the armed robbery, and Ameral specifically is charged with two counts alleging robbery with an “armed accomplice,” according to a news account of the court proceedings against the pair.
Parsons told The Sopris Sun that Ameral was not included in the Las Vegas Metro Police Department warrant for Weeks, which essentially is a request by the LVMPD that local authorities hold Weeks without bond until arrangements have been made to ship him to Nevada. On May 1, according to the Garfield County Jail’s list of current inmates, Weeks’ bond remained at $100,000 on the local charges.
According to information released by the LVMPD, Weeks is a suspect in the murder of a woman in an apartment, whose body was discovered by a family on Jan. 16, reportedly after she had been dead for some time. Police reported that she had died from gunshot wounds, and that Weeks was named a suspect following an investigation.
The Carbondale Police Department on April 29 reported that the matter of Las Vegas’ interest in Weeks surfaced here on March 2, when detectives from the LVMPD showed up in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs “conducting interview related to a homicide case.”
During the week of April 18, the CPD statement continues, detectives in Las Vegas obtained a warrant for Weeks’ arrest, accusing him of first degree murder, armed burglary and robbery, all of which are felonies.
Parsons said his office had offered Weeks a plea bargain, under which Weeks would plead guilty to armed robbery in return for a prison term of 15 to 20 years.
But, he added, so far Weeks has seemed unwilling to take the plea deal.
“I’m pretty sure we’re headed for trial,” Parson said.
In that case, he said, the goal of local prosecutors will be to try Weeks here, and then send him on to Las Vegas to face the charges there.
“It’s a matter of practicality,” Parsons said of the arrangement. “We have a good case here, sufficient evidence to see it though, and then we’ll see what Nevada can do.”