Craig man gets three years in prison for drug trafficking
Curtis Shewfelt skipped a previous sentencing hearing after being convicted in July
Curtis Shewfelt, a Craig man convicted on two drug felonies in a July trial in Eagle County District Court, was sentenced to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections after failing to appear at his first sentencing hearing in September.
Shewfelt’s mother, Mary Shewfelt, was the only one who appeared in court that early September day to tell the story of her son, who she said “needs help…not prison.”
Mary Shewfelt said the elongation of her son’s case, which originated from an arrest in summer 2017 and ran through this summer’s trial, put an immense amount of pressure and stress on him, impacting his ability to heal from his addiction and move on with his life.
After a dismissal of his charges, an appeals process, a refiling of charges and an April mistrial, the four-year process ended with Shewfelt being convicted on both counts brought against him in a July jury trial: conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance and possession with intent to distribute, both class 3 drug felonies.
“He lost the trial, and he lost hope,” Mary Shewfelt said at the September hearing.
“What we do agree on is that Curtis needs help,” Chief Judge Paul Dunkelman said then. “What punishment comes with that help, we have to figure out, but the important part is that he is safe.”
An arrest warrant was issued for Shewfelt prior to the September sentencing hearing when he missed a meeting with his probation officer.
Shewfelt appeared in court for his second sentencing hearing Wednesday safe, but in handcuffs after being arrested on Sept. 26, according to his defense attorney Jesse Wiens.
Shewfelt has been in the Eagle County jail since then, 73 days to be exact, which Wiens said should go towards Shewfelt’s completion of his sentence. He should also receive credit for the time he spent in jail at other points of the four-year saga, which would amount to a total of 108 days, Wiens said.
Deputy District Attorney for the 5th Judicial District Johnny Lombardi argued that Shewfelt should not be let off easy as he took “no responsibility” for his actions in speaking with the probation department during what is called a pre-sentence investigation.
Beyond this, Shewfelt failed to appear for his first pre-sentence investigation as well as his September sentencing hearing, Lombardi said. Shewfelt has also picked up two new felony cases in Mesa County.
“At that point did he take responsibility? No, no responsibility,” Lombardi said.
When a pre-sentence investigation could finally be conducted after Shewfelt was arrested at the end of September, the probation department recommended that he be sentenced to the Colorado Department of Corrections. Lombardi made the same recommendation Wednesday before Chief Judge Dunkelman.
Wiens pushed back against this recommendation by saying that he has never understood how Shewfelt was charged, or convicted, on drug trafficking charges given the small amount of heroin he possessed during the 2017 arrest that started it all.
“When we are talking about people who may have an up to a gram per day habit, 16 grams of heroin doesn’t go a long way,” Wiens said Wednesday, arguing that the drugs were likely for personal use and not for sale.
Wiens also pointed to the mistrial and complicated history of Shewfelt’s case as evidence that he has been treated unfairly given the small amount of drugs at the heart of it all, which totaled just over 16 grams.
“The people seem to continue a pattern where I have had to take responsibility for all of their actions as well,” Shewfelt said of the complications while making his statement before the judge. “I don’t really understand how I’m not taking responsibility…”
Shewfelt said he called the probation department after missing his pre-sentence investigation in September and was under the impression that the subsequent sentencing hearing had been vacated when an arrest warrant was issued. He acknowledged that he should have come to the courthouse or done something more, but said he has been going through a lot in his personal life.
Over the month of September, Shewfelt said he was trying to determine the best way to turn himself in given an ongoing divorce proceeding he is navigating.
“I just want to apologize for everything…” he said at the end of his statement.
Chief Judge Dunkelman once again expressed his frustration with how the judicial process unfolded in Shewfelt’s case, but said he understood why it unfolded that way.
Ultimately, Dunkelman said it was “apparent that this is a distribution case” given evidence presented in the July trial, characterizing it as “some drug addicts” engaging in low level distribution “to fund that addiction.“
Shewfelt had many opportunities to show the court that he could be successful on probation, but he did not take those opportunities and, thus, Dunkelman said he did not think that would be a fitting sentence.
Ultimately, Dunkelman sentenced Shewfelt to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections with a one-year mandatory parole period. He honored Wiens’ request that Shewfelt be given credit for the jail time he has already served.
“It may feel insincere, but I do wish you good luck in turning your life around,” Dunkelman said to Shewfelt at the end of the hearing.
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