For those who know him, the Roaring Fork Valley’s “dispensary robber” is a strange case.
On one hand, Hayden May is an amiable, polite, law-abiding 26-year-old who thrives in rigidly structured environments. On the other, he is a masked, armed robber who has twice in five years inexplicably targeted Aspen and Basalt marijuana businesses where he was a known customer.
“How boneheaded do you have to be?” District Judge Chris Seldin asked rhetorically at May’s sentencing hearing Monday, where he faced as long as 20 years in prison. “You’re the dispensary robber! Then you go out and decide to rob a dispensary again.
“You’re obviously not a criminal mastermind.”
Declaring that May has “many good qualities” and that he believes he will outgrow a tendency toward impulsive decisions, Seldin on Monday sentenced May to five years in prison, to be followed by five years of parole. Because May pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery using an article victims thought was a deadly weapon and second-degree burglary — which are considered crimes of violence — he will serve at least 75% of the sentence, his lawyer said.
“These are major crimes and you give people the impression you’re a hardcore criminal,” Seldin said. “I think you’re a good kid. But I have to square that with what you’ve done.”
May will receive credit for 281 days of confinement in the Pitkin County Jail, as well.
May previously admitted he entered the building housing the Roots Rx marijuana dispensary in Basalt in February, hid behind a stack of boxes, then waited for the store to close and employees to leave. He then tried to break into the dispensary, but alarms sounded and he fled.
Two weeks later, he said entered the same store on Southside Drive wearing a ski mask and brandishing a knife at the three employees working. At the time he warned a male employee to back off or he’d “kick his … ass,” then told a female employee to open the cash registers. The woman recognized May as a regular customer from his eyes and his voice and called him “Hayden.”
In October, May admitted to Seldin he brandished the knife and robbed the dispensary of nearly $3,300 before fleeing on to a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus, whose driver had been warned to look out for a man matching May’s description and called police.
May also admitted he robbed an Aspen marijuana dispensary in July 2015 of actual marijuana using a hammer, when employees there also recognized him as one of their acquaintances. He fled Aspen in a stolen vehicle after that crime and was arrested in the St. Louis area a few days later, when he led police on a high-speed chase that ended when he rammed a police car.
He pleaded guilty to robbery, theft and aggravated motor vehicle theft in that case and was sentenced to 464 days in the Pitkin County Jail.
At the time of his sentencing in April 2016, May offered a “sincere apology” for “the biggest mistake of my life” and said he wanted to make positive changes in his life, including pursuing a career in sports journalism.
On Monday, May said he was sorry again, and this time expressed an interest in a career as a firefighter.
“I’d like to apologize to the victims for any trauma I’ve caused them,” he said. “The crimes I’ve committed do not represent my true character.”
May said he hoped to take advantage of education opportunities in prison and “turn tragedy to triumph.”
May is young and believes in himself and “still wants to make something of his life,” said Ashley Andrews, his public defender.
His father, however, expressed “serious concerns about why Hayden does this” in a letter written to Seldin, Andrews said. He told the judge that such actions are out of character for his son and that mental illness runs in the family, Andrews said.
“He makes these terrible lapses of judgment … where he really seems to lose his mind,” Andrews said.
Seldin, who also presided over May’s first dispensary robbery case, said he grew to know May through those proceedings, as well as afterward when May would occasionally wait on the judge at Mezzaluna restaurant in downtown Aspen.
“I was so proud of you,” Seldin told May on Monday. “You were doing the things that would set you up for success.”
That was why he told May he was so disappointed in him during one of his first appearances in court after he was arrested for the second dispensary robbery, Seldin said. May told a probation officer that Las Vegas — and presumably gambling — was to blame for his robbing a dispensary for the second time, the judge said.