Licoln County judge improperly denied an incarcerated man the opportunity to justify his possession of contraband weapons behind bars, Colorado’s second-highest court ruled last week in reversing the conviction.
Colorado law provides for a “choice-of-evils” defense. A person can avoid conviction if they show they were facing imminent harm and engaged in criminal conduct as an emergency measure, without another path available to avoid the harm.
Edward ___ was incarcerated at Limon Correctional Facility for a sex offense when he disclosed to an employee that he had created his own weapons — bars of soap inside socks. Edward alleged the “White boys,” potentially meaning White supremacist prison gangs, were targeting sex offenders. His cellmate was reportedly ordered to “take care of” Edward.
Edward said he kept the makeshift weapons for his own protection. Instead, prosecutors charged him with felony possession of contraband. A jury convicted Edward and he received four additional years in prison.