Welcome to North Dakota, Jimmy. How do you plead?
WILLISTON, N.D. - Jimmy Baldwin, the onetime homeless resident of posh Aspen, Colo., who received a one-way bus ticket to North Dakota last week, has found room and board in Williston -- in the Williams County Jail.
He is scheduled to appear this morning in Williston Municipal Court on a charge of disorderly conduct, stemming from his arrest Friday after he allegedly urinated on the front of Whispers, a strip club.
To be fair, people in Aspen had warned that Baldwin, 32, has had trouble with "impulse control," which led to several run-ins with the law in that city.
But "since he's been in custody, everything's been fine," Williston Police Lt. David Belisle said Wednesday.
Baldwin, 32, originally from California, was facing prosecution in Aspen last week for trespassing when people there arranged for him to try his luck in another place. An anonymous donor provided nearly $200 for the director of an Aspen homeless shelter to buy Jimmy a one-way bus ticket.
He said he wanted to go to Williston. He had heard from a friend that there was work there in the oilfields.
The friend may not have mentioned the acute shortage of housing in western North Dakota, or a lack of patience with people who struggle with "impulse control."
Aspen's farewell gift to Baldwin did not sit well with many North Dakotans, who flooded the Aspen Daily News with more than 70 angry letters to the editor decrying Aspen's "using their state as a dumping ground for unwanted citizens," the newspaper reported.
His arrival in Williston didn't go so well, either.
Shirtless and relieving himself on the sidewalk outside the strip club's entrance, he was arrested about 7 p.m. Friday, cited for disorderly conduct, ordered to stay away from Whispers and another strip club next door, Heartbreakers, and released, police said.
A short time later, complaining that he was hurt -- "a foot, a hand, some appendage," Belisle said -- Baldwin told an employee outside a funeral home that he needed medical attention. The employee called police, and paramedics got Baldwin to Mercy Medical Center in Williston.
There, he refused treatment and again became disorderly, police said, so he was taken to the Williams County Jail and booked for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor.
That's where he spent Christmas Eve, Christmas and the two days after Christmas.
Belisle, the Williston police lieutenant, said that Baldwin could not be interviewed from jail, but he said there had been no calls or complaints about him from jailers.
"He has been behaving," Belisle said,
It was in a medical facility that Baldwin had one of his many recent misunderstandings with authorities in Aspen.
A Dec. 1 report in the Aspen Daily News noted that a city judge lost patience with Baldwin after finding him guilty of trespassing at Aspen Valley Hospital on the morning of Oct. 27.
Baldwin said he had gone to the hospital with homeless friends to check on another friend, who was being treated for hypothermia. A security worker told the judge that Baldwin, who he said smelled of alcohol, was verbally abusive toward hospital workers and tried to make himself coffee with a broken coffee machine.
Baldwin said he and his friends entered the hospital when they heard the fellow who was being treated for hypothermia yelling for help.
"We were snowboarding across the street," he told the judge.
Well, snowboarding and drinking.
"How much did you have to drink?" the judge asked.
"I only had probably a six-pack, and a dude dropped some beer on my head," Baldwin said, according to the Aspen paper's account.
The judge also expressed dismay that Baldwin had failed to complete community service ordered by the court after a previous conviction. Baldwin said he was trying to work for pay so he could "get out of the woods."
Three weeks later, Jimmy Baldwin got out of town. As he awaited trial in Aspen on new charges of disorderly conduct, menacing and possession of marijuana, a city prosecutor agreed to continue the case for 30 days, a "good Samaritan" stepped forward with $195 for a ticket and Baldwin boarded a bus for Williston and the booming oilfields of North Dakota.