News

Peeps trial, day two: "Idiotic" developments and jury delays

The second day in the trial of Carol Burdick, who says she was evicted from her apartment for putting a Peeps display over her door to celebrate Easter 2009, was even more ridiculous than the first.

Even Burdick's attorney, John Pineau, who's made two hilarious appearances on Stephen Colbert's show talking about the case, used words like "idiotic" and "bizarre" to describe developments.

As reported by the Boulder Daily Camera's Heath Urie live from the courtroom, the day began with Burdick on the witness stand, noting that Christmas wreaths were routinely allowed in hallways at her Aimco-owned apartment complex.

As a result, she was shocked when she received an April 21 notice saying she'd be evicted if she didn't take down a small Peeps display she'd nailed over her door -- a move she saw as retaliation for arguments she'd had with management over her appliances.

Cut to May 14, when Burdick told the court someone ripped down her Peeps tribute, offering in its stead an eviction notice. She responded by moving out -- although she admitted to Aimco attorney Jon Sands that no one forced her to do so immediately.

After that, Boulder County Judge David Archuleta nixed testimony by two of Pineau's Peeps "experts," Virginia Unseld and Erik Miller -- but he did allow comments by Andrew Novick, the onetime leader of the Warlock Pinchers, a memorable Denver band. Novick's turned his penchant for collecting anything and everything (including Peeps) into a visual arts sideline.

Archuleta even gave the jury a chance to ask Novick questions. They laughed instead.

The judge did the same to the complaint that Burdick had been unfairly evicted, declaring that the jury wouldn't be asked to weigh in on the matter. However, he declined to dismiss the case entirely, as Sands had requested. Although even Pineau branded the proceedings "bizarre," the question of whether Aimco had changed Burdick's lease to oust Burdick remained. Closing arguments were expected to begin right after lunch.

Except they didn't. For reasons unknown, the jury waited a full five hours to hear the lawyers sum up -- time Burdick filled in part by showing off a diorama of her former apartment complex populated by Peeps. Building the display was "therapeutic," she maintained.

Finally, Pineau got his turn to speak, and he used it to characterize l'affair Burdick as "the most idiotic case I've ever done, because I can't believe what I'm having to defend my client against."

Sands, for his part, said the case wasn't so much about Peeps as it was about Burdick's "unilateral decision... not to pay rent."

By a little after 6 p.m., the six jurors finally had the case -- and Archuleta clearly hoped they'd almost instantly come to a conclusion. But no: At 6:45 p.m., with no agreement reached, the judge sent them hope for the night.

Meaning that the Peeps trial will be entering day three a short while from now. Will justice be done?

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts