Sheen pleads guilty to misdemeanor in Aspen case, avoids jail time |

Sheen pleads guilty to misdemeanor in Aspen case, avoids jail time

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Rustin Gudim/The Aspen TimesActor Charlie Sheen waves Monday as he leaves the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen.

ASPEN – Actor Charlie Sheen won’t face jail time as part of a plea agreement Monday in Aspen that included a guilty plea to misdemeanor assault on his wife in exchange for the dismissal of felony charges of menacing and criminal mischief.

Sheen, 44, also will undergo 36 hours of anger management and 30 days of probation. He has 30 days to enter the Promises Treatment Center in California for a 30-day treatment program.

Less clear, however, is if Sheen will actually have to report to the Promises Treatment Center. That’s because he already spent 93 days there earlier this year, according to attorney Yale Galanter, who represented the victim, Brooke Mueller Sheen.

Sheen’s Aspen attorney, Richie Cummins, said it will be up to the treatment center on whether Sheen must undergo treatment there.

“They will evaluate him and make a determination,” Cummins said.

District Judge James Boyd agreed to allow Sheen into the program in lieu of a 30-day jail sentence. The judge also gave the suspect credit for time served in anger-management courses Sheen took in California earlier this year.

Sheen appeared in court wearing a black suit and purple tie. Moments after entering the Pitkin County District Courtroom, he looked around and said, “What’s happenin’?”

Later, when Boyd asked him why he was pleading guilty, Sheen responded, “Because I’m guilty, your honor.”

After the hearing, Sheen and District Attorney Martin Beeson shared a few words.

“Thank you, Martin. I appreciate it,” Sheen told Beeson.

While Assistant Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin handled the courtroom proceedings on behalf of the prosecution, it was Beeson who called the shots behind the scenes.

Both Beeson and Mordkin said they felt the plea agreement was fair.

“Nobody on their first offense goes to jail for 30 days,” Beeson said. “And I’m hoping he’ll take advantage of the treatment and get the help he needs.”

Sheen’s Christmas Day arrest at a West End home in Aspen was his first Colorado run-in with the law. He was cited for domestic violence in California in 1996.

Beeson said that “Sheen stepped up to the plate. This is a straight guilty plea to a domestic violence crime … He took responsibility for the crime of domestic violence.”

The deal comes the same week Sheen is scheduled to return to work for production of the eighth season of the CBS sitcom “Two and a Half Men.” The actor, who was formally charged under his birth name – Carlos Irwin Estevez – is expected to make nearly $2 million per episode.

“We were lucky to be able to work something out to keep production on schedule,” said Sheen’s manager, Mark Burg.

Likewise, Sheen expressed gratitude.

“I’m very grateful to the court and to the people of Pitkin County,” he said in a statement after the hearing. “I look forward to complying with the court’s decision, getting on with my life and putting this behind me.”

Sheen’s disposition was expected to be reached in June. Attorneys on both sides had hatched a plea agreement stipulating that Sheen would spend 30 days in the Pitkin County jail, and perform community service at the nearby Theatre Aspen.

But when Sheen, a chain smoker, learned that jail rules prohibited inmates from firing up while performing community service, the actor backed out of the deal.

Sheen was arrested Christmas Day in Aspen on domestic violence allegations that earlier that morning he had held his wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen, at knife-point at a West End Home and told her, “You better be in fear. If you tell anybody, I’ll kill you. Your mother’s money means nothing. I have ex-police I can hire who know how to get the job done and they won’t leave any trace.”

During the sentencing hearing, Cummins said that “part of the catalyst for what occurred on Dec. 25 was fueled by alcohol.”

Allred: Sheen case ‘theater of the absurd’

A key witness in the Charlie Sheen domestic violence case – who also resigned from the Aspen Police Department after a series of questionable judgment calls – and a high-profile attorney teamed together to blast the plea agreement the celebrity struck with prosecutors Monday.

“We’ve heard of sweetheart deals, but this sweetheart sentence only reinforces what people believe – that there are two levels of justice. One for the rich and famous, and a different one for everyone else,” said Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred. She has earned notoriety over the years by taking on star-powered cases, including those of two of Tiger Woods’ mistresses.

Allred also once represented Brittany Ashland, who allegedly was a victim of domestic violence inflicted by Sheen in 1996. Sheen pleaded no contest and was given a one-year suspended jail sentence, two years probation, a $2,800 fine, 300 hours of community service and eight counseling sessions, according to a statement from Allred.

Under a steady downpour of rain outside of the Pitkin County Courthouse, Allred lashed out that the “the public has the right to expect that the rich, powerful and famous will get their just due, not a sentence in the theater of the absurd.” She called Sheen’s disposition an “extremely laughable and unacceptable light sentence.”

Allred said she would have been satisfied with a jail sentence of 30 days for Sheen.

As Allred spoke to a throng of reporters, attorneys Yale Galanter, who represented Sheen’s wife, Brooke Mueller Sheen, and Charlie Sheen’s lawyer, Richie Cummins, stood close by listening.

This isn’t the first time Galanter and Allred have been on different sides of the aisle.

Galanter defended O.J. Simpson in his 2001 road rage trial and his 2008 burglary trial in Las Vegas, which resulted in a conviction and 33-year prison sentence. Allred represented the family of Nicole Brown Simpson during the 1995 murder trial.

Allred’s current clients include Valerie McFarlane, a former APD officer who interviewed Sheen’s wife on Christmas Day, the same day Mueller Sheen called 911 to report that Sheen had held her at knife-point and threatened to kill her.

McFarlane, reading from a prepared statement, said that Mueller Sheen had “red marks on her arms. I also saw older bruises that appeared to be in the healing process. A knife was recovered at the scene, which Brooke alleged had been used by the defendant to threat her. Brooke was crying uncontrollably as she described the incident to me.”

Twice during the press conference, an unidentified woman interjected that Mueller Sheen was drunk and incoherent the morning in question. Allred cut her off both times.

In the meantime, McFarlane said she retained Allred “to protect my rights as a witness, as I expected that Mr. Sheen’s attorneys would try to attack me and try to undermine my credibility. I am appalled that the court has chosen to impose the lightest possible sentence imaginable on Mr. Sheen. I wish that the judge would have seen what Mrs. Sheen looked like that Christmas day and felt the terror that I believe she must have experienced as a result of what she alleged she had suffered because of Mr. Sheen’s conduct toward her.”

McFarlane resigned from the APD in February following a string of episodes at the department, which included gaining free VIP access for her and her family to a Jazz Aspen-Snowmass concert and giving Troy Hooper, then the editor of the Aspen Daily News, a lift home after he had allegedly been driving under the influence.

McFarlane was given $10,000 as part of a severance package, which included a waiver agreement stipulating that she could not sue the city of Aspen for issues arising from her employment at the APD, which began in August 2008.

Galanter said Allred and McFarlane’s press conference served little purpose.

“Gloria, as fine a lawyer as she is, it’s inappropriate to come in with a press conference,” Galanter said, adding that McFarlane’s credibility would have been an issue had the case gone to trial.

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