The 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office is appealing a judge's decision to throw out a felony charge against the man accused of crashing into and killing a Colorado State trooper in 2016.
A spokeswoman for the district announced on March 5 the Colorado Court of Appeals accepted their appeal of the judge's ruling and now has jurisdiction over the appeal process.
“We have respect for the judge in this case, but we believe that she got it wrong,” District Attorney George Brauchler said in a prepared statement. “So we are appealing her decision and her findings. The appellate court has informed us that they will give this an expedited hearing, for which we are grateful.”
District Court Judge Shay Whitaker dismissed a Class 5 felony, criminally-negligent homicide, the top charge against defendant Noe Gamez-Ruiz, as a sanction against prosecutors for committing discovery violations.
Gamez-Ruiz still faces charges of careless passing of an emergency vehicle and careless driving resulting in death. His plea remains not guilty.
He was charged after he allegedly struck and killed Trooper Cody Donahue on Nov. 25, 2016 while driving his U.S. Foods truck on Interstate 25 south of Castle Rock. The trooper was investigating a separate crash on the interstate shoulder when he was hit.
The case has twice ended in a mistrial, both times after the defense learned of information that was either not provided to them by prosecutors before trial or after a witness for the prosecution gave testimony that was not included in reports prior to trial.
Following the first mistrial, Whitaker lessened the top charge from a Class 6 felony to a Class 5 felony, which shortened the sentenced he could have faced if found guilty. Dismissing the felony altogether was her sanction against prosecutors for the second mistrial.
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