When an improperly installed wood stove caused a fire at a mobile home on County Road 25 in early November, Montezuma County resident Derrick Jim carried a burned woman out of the structure. Then he went to jail.
Jim, 31, said he was having a cookout with friends on Nov. 7 when he noticed the flames. At first, he thought trees were on fire, then realized it was a neighbor’s mobile home.
“I just took off running and I told my homie, I was like, ‘Call the cops,’” Jim said.
When he opened the door to the mobile home, he said he saw thick black smoke near the ceiling and the glow of flames below. The rush of air in the mobile home kicked up the flames, he said, and a woman lying on a couch began to moan.
Jim said he pulled his shirt over his face, picked her up and carried her out of the burning home. He said he had told his friends to shut off the propane, but they didn’t know how, so he turned it off after carrying the woman out. She was lying on the couch with a blanket when the fire started and had burns on her hands and face.
Jim, along with other witnesses, told his story to a Montezuma County sheriff’s deputy. According to an MCSO incident report, the deputy checked the witnesses for active warrants. Jim had a felony warrant and was taken to the Montezuma County Detention Center.
Warrant reveals a felony caseIn an interview with The Journal outside Montezuma County Combined Courts on Nov. 29, Jim said he didn’t know what the warrant was for at the time. He said he had been to all of his court dates.
“Oh, well,” Jim said. “If they say I got a warrant, I got a warrant. I just went to jail to take care of it.”
The warrant wasn’t for missing a court date, however, it was for allegedly dropping a 0.5 gram bag of cocaine in courtroom No. 2 at Montezuma County Combined Courts on the morning of Oct. 11, according to an affidavit for issuance of an arrest warrant filed in Montezuma County Court on Oct. 15.
According to the affidavit, while Jim stood in court with his public defender for a plea hearing, he had his left hand in his pocket. He then removed his hand from his pocket in a fist. He walked away from his public defender and with his left hand dropped a 1-by-1-inch bag on the ground and looked in the direction of Darrell Perez, who was in court in custody that same morning.
The affidavit states Perez then acknowledged the drop. A short time later, Jim’s public defender saw the bag and motioned for a court deputy, who took possession of the bag.
Perez is in jail awaiting arraignment and plea hearings in several cases, including an unrelated case of bringing meth into jail.
On Oct. 30, 19 days after Jim allegedly dropped the bag of cocaine in court, a local bail bondsman bonded Perez out of jail and drove him to the Wells Fargo in Durango, where Perez said he had a joint bank account with a friend. But the bondsman soon realized Perez did not have the money, so he drove Perez back to jail. A bag of meth was later found in his clothing, and Perez was charged with introducing contraband into a detention facility.
After Jim allegedly dropped the bag of cocaine in court, a deputy reviewed surveillance video and saw that Jim and Perez were seen speaking to each other twice – as Jim dropped the bag and again as Jim exited the swing gate in the courtroom.
According to the affidavit, Assistant District Attorney Matthew Margeson is a witness in the alleged crime. He stated that before Jim walked to the stand, there was no bag of drugs on the ground. After Jim had left, there was a bag of drugs.
Because he is a staff member for the 22nd Judicial District, Deputy District Attorney Sheena Goldsborough made a motion on Oct. 19 to pass the case onto the 6th Judicial District. David Ottman, deputy district attorney for the 6th Judicial District, is now assigned to the case.
For allegedly dropping the bag of cocaine in court, Jim is charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 drug felony, and introducing contraband in the first degree, a Class 4 felony.
A string of arrests in two yearsThe two felonies are the latest charges against Jim.
On Feb. 2, Cortez Police arrested Jim on drug charges. He was charged with unlawful use of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia and driving under restraint. On May 23, Jim pleaded guilty to unlawful use of a controlled substance and driving under restraint. He also pleaded guilty to a 2016 traffic charge and a 2018 dog running at large charge.
Montezuma County Judge Jennilynn Lawrence sentenced Jim to 12 months probation and court fees of $1,326 on May 23. He was ordered to not consume alcohol or illegal substances and obtain a substance use evaluation.
Less than a month into his 12 months of probation, Jim was arrested for assault on June 18. He was charged with second-degree assault, a Class 4 felony, felony menacing, a Class 5 felony, and crime of violence. On Sept. 20, Jim pleaded not guilty to all three charges and is scheduled for a jury trial to begin on Jan. 7.
According to court documents, Jim was arrested three times on warrants in August and September. Cortez Police arrested Jim on a warrant for failure to comply on Aug. 1, Costilla County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jim on a warrant for failure to comply on Aug. 28 and Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jim on a warrant on Sept. 12.