Couple in jail after UHP stops rental car stolen from Denver airport

Stock image, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A couple from Colorado is in jail after a Utah Highway Patrol trooper stopped them in a rental car on Tuesday night. During a search of the vehicle, which was later determined to have been stolen from the Denver International Airport, the trooper allegedly found a stolen firearm, a large quantity of pills and several packages of marijuana.

L-R: Chanel Laren Wideman, 19, of Aurora, Colo., Darrell Diamond Mitchell, 19, of Denver, Colo. booking photos posted in Washington County, Utah, April 24, 2019, | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

According to the probable cause statements filed in support of the arrests, 19-year-old Darrell Mitchell of Denver, Colorado, and Chanel Wideman, also 19, of Aurora, Colorado, are both in custody at Purgatory Correctional Facility after a UHP trooper pulled them over for going 93 mph in a 70 mph zone on Interstate 15 near milepost 3 in St. George late Tuesday night.

As the trooper approached, the report said, he detected the odor of raw marijuana smell coming from inside of the white Chrysler 300 that had all of its windows rolled down.

A check on the vehicle’s tag number showed it was a rental car out of Denver.

While speaking with the driver, later identified as Mitchell by his Colorado driver’s license, the trooper asked for the rental agreement for the vehicle. As the defendant searched through the glove box for the contract he “tried to conceal a small baggy of marijuana” the trooper said, and was unable to find the contract or registration information for the car.

The driver handed the baggie over to the trooper who asked if either occupant had a medical marijuana card, in which case possessing a certain amount of marijuana would have been legal, but neither of the two teens were card holders.

The driver then told the trooper there was a gun inside of a backpack located in the back seat, which turned out to be a Glock Model 19 with one loaded magazine and a single loose round.

A check on the firearm’s serial number showed it was stolen out of Denver, the report said.

During a search of the backpack the trooper also found a number of small packages of raw marijuana, along with a baggy containing a “large number” of yellow bar-shaped pills that the trooper said appeared to be Xanax.

The driver was arrested, and during questioning, he told the trooper the gun was his at first but changed his story when told it was stolen. According to the report, Mitchell originally said he was “willing to take the charge for ‘his girl'” but then said he had no idea the gun was stolen.

The defendant also claimed ownership of the pills, telling the trooper they were all for his consumption, but the trooper replied there were too many pills for a single person to use and told him he would be charged with possession with intent to distribute as well as possession of a firearm by a restricted person for being in possession of the drugs at the same time.

At that point, troopers questioned Wideman, who claimed ownership of the gun, the marijuana and the pills, for which she told officers said she had a prescription but was unable to produce.

When told the gun was reported stolen, Wideman “acted surprised” and told the trooper she bought it on the black market.

During the investigation, troopers also found the driver’s side rear window was broken out, and there was a single key under the driver’s seat that didn’t have an identifying rental tag on it, which led them to believe it may be stolen.

When confronted about the vehicle, the report says Mitchell initially told troopers he borrowed the car from a friend whose father put the rental in his name. Later at the jail, he changed his story and told police he paid cash to his cousin to borrow the car, and he denied any knowledge of the car being stolen. He also told police the window was damaged when the car was broken into during a visit to Los Angeles.

Troopers contacted the rental car company and were told the car had not been rented recently and that a license plate check showed the vehicle should still be in the lot at the Denver airport. The car was impounded and towed from the roadway.

Mitchell was later charged with second-degree felony theft by receiving stolen property, as well as two third-degree felonies: one for purchase, transfer, possess or use of a firearm by a restricted person and one for possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. He was also charged with misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and speeding, a traffic infraction.

Wideman faces two second-degree felony charges that include one count of theft and one count of theft by receiving. She also faces two third-degree felonies for purchase, transfer, possession or use of a firearm by a restricted person and a single count of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance.

Mitchell appeared in 5th District Court Friday and remains in custody on $20,680 bail, while Wideman made an initial appearance Wednesday and is being held on $25,680 bail.

This report is based on statements from police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Email: cblowers@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

 

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