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Employer pleads guilty in trench collapse death


Johnson

An employer charged in the 2019 death of one of his staff pleaded guilty to reduced charges with a possible 14 month jail sentence.

On Monday, Bryan D. Johnson, 52, pleaded guilty in Grand County Court to two counts of reckless endangerment and one count of third-degree assault for the death of Rosario “Chayo” Martinez-Lopez, which was caused by a trench collapse on a worksite in Granby.

Johnson faces a sentence of up to 14 months in county jail, three years of supervised probation, 100 hours of community service, a $2,000 donation split between Habitat for Humanity Grand County and Grand County Search and Rescue, as well as requirements to attend Workers’ Memorial Day and worker safety seminars. Under the plea, Johnson’s original manslaughter charge is dismissed.

Johnson is scheduled to be sentenced on July 14.

This is the second plea agreement brought before the court in Johnson’s case. The first deal would have had Johnson plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment with a possible sentence of four years of supervised probation and up to 90 days in jail, as well as other stipulations.

That plea was rejected by District Court Judge Mary Hoak in December for including a deferred sentence.

Despite the early setback, 14th Judicial District Chief Deputy Attorney Kathryn Dowdell said Monday’s outcome is a just one and will set a precedent for workplace safety in this jurisdiction.

“Although we are disappointed the original agreement the parties and victim’s family viewed as just was rejected initially, the current plea agreement holds the defendant accountable, and gives the county court judge the option of sentencing the defendant to 14 months in the county jail – for acts that previously would have only resulted in OSHA penalties,” Dowdell said in a statement. “We are sending a message to the community that while previously OSHA may have fined you, or regulated your business – you may now face criminal prosecution if you do not ensure the safety of your employees on a construction site.”

According to previous court proceedings, Johnson was on site at the time of the death and had never dug a trench as deep or long as the one on the development site. He also wasn’t trained on how to do so, nor did he meet OSHA requirements for the trench.

A previous records request for the OSHA investigation and settlement regarding Johnson was denied due to the ongoing nature of the case.

 

Gypsum man facing charges in multiple counties for fraudulent checks totaling $728,000

Jesse Robert Flores, 20, of Gypsum, turned himself in Tuesday, Dec. 15, for an arrest warrant in Eagle County alleging he wrote a fraudulent $30,000 check to steal a vehicle from its owner. Authorities allege that Flores has written numerous fraudulent checks, totaling $728,000, in recent months to steal vehicles from their owners in Eagle, Summit, Routt, Mesa, Chaffee, Grand and Garfield counties.
Photo from Eagle County Sheriff’s Office

EAGLE — Jesse Robert Flores, 20, appeared in Eagle County Court on Tuesday, Dec. 15, after turning himself in for an arrest warrant alleging that he wrote a fraudulent check for $30,000 to steal a used Jeep Wrangler from its owner.

In brief comments made to the court, Flores appeared to characterize the matter as “a civil misunderstanding” between himself and the seller of the vehicle. But prosecutors allege Flores has written numerous fraudulent checks over the past few months to steal vehicles from their owners in Chaffee, Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Mesa, Routt and Summit counties.

While the arrest warrant was issued for one fraudulent check and one vehicle theft alleged in Eagle County, similar allegations of fraudulent checks and vehicle thefts by Flores have been piling up so quickly in various jurisdictions that police and prosecutors have had a challenging time keeping up with all of them and are still investigating potential cases against Flores, said Heidi McCollum, assistant district attorney for Colorado’s 5th Judicial District.

Flores now has open criminal cases in Chaffee, Eagle, Mesa, Routt and Summit counties with additional investigations occurring in Eagle, Garfield and Grand counties, McCollum said.

Flores appeared in Eagle County Court via a video feed from the Eagle County Detention Facility for an advisement of rights and bond hearing. Flores is not yet formally charged in the Eagle County case.

“It’s like reading the same report repeatedly in all these cases,” McCollum said about the fraudulent check and vehicle theft cases against Flores.

According to prosecutors, Flores allegedly wrote fraudulent checks to buy cars, trucks, ATVs, snowmobiles and trailers, using the vehicles for as long as he could string along their sellers. He later would return the vehicles, some of them with damage, as law enforcement got involved.

In the various cases and investigations, fraudulent checks allegedly written by Flores in recent months total $728,000, with another $50,000 in damages reported to the vehicles, McCollum said.

Flores did all this while out on bond in a Mesa County case from August, where he is charged with motor vehicle theft and fraud by check, McCollum told the court.

According to an affidavit filed for Flores’ arrest warrant in Eagle County, sheriff’s deputies on Oct. 28 recovered about 13 vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and utility trailers from two storage facilities that were both associated with Flores. All of the vehicles had either been reported as stolen by Flores or were associated with fraudulent checks he had written to purchase them, according to the affidavit.

In court Tuesday, McCollum outlined a lengthy list of allegations pending in various counties against Flores, requesting a $500,000 bond in his Eagle County case.

In Chaffee County, McCollum said Flores allegedly wrote $35,500 in fraudulent checks to steal motor vehicles. He allegedly wrote another $48,155 in fraudulent checks in Summit County as well as $33,000 in fraudulent checks in Routt County.

Other criminal cases against Flores are based in Rifle, for fraudulent checks totaling $12,432, and in Grand County, for fraudulent checks totaling $91,182 and for vehicle damages totaling $28,470, McCollum said.

The largest case police and prosecutors have found so far is in Glenwood Springs, McCollum said, where Flores allegedly wrote over $290,000 in fraudulent checks to several car dealerships, with one vehicle returned with $2,500 in damages.

Additional cases involving Flores are being investigated by the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, the Eagle Police Department and the Vail Police Department as well as in Grand and Garfield counties, according to McCollum.

Judge Rachel J. Olguin-Fresquez set a $30,000 cash bond for Flores’ Eagle County case and said if he is able to post the bond, he is ordered not to purchase, trade or in any way exchange any motor vehicle.

The district attorney’s office has until Dec. 22 to file formal criminal charges against Flores in the Eagle County case. He is due back in Eagle County Court on Dec. 28.

This story is from VailDaily.com.

Top 5 most read stories on SkyHiNews.com, week of June 13

Grand County entered a Stage 1 fire ban on June 16 at noon due to high risk of fires.
Sky-Hi News file photo

The following stories were the most well-read on www.SkyHiNews.com from June 13-19.

1. Felony arrests: Woman caught receiving meth in mail also brought drugs into county jail, police say

A woman who recently received methamphetamine through the mail is facing new charges for allegedly introducing meth to the Grand County Jail.

Keetsa A. Kyle, 39, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of contraband and introducing contraband after meth was found in a holding cell Kyle had been held in overnight, according to an arrest affidavit.

Kyle was arrested by Granby Police on May 12 for possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and violation of a protection order.

2. Grand goes to Stage 1 fire ban

In response to a heightened fire risk, Grand County commissioners unanimously approved Tuesday a move into a Stage 1 fire ban that goes into effect at noon Wednesday.

Under Stage 1 restrictions, campfires are banned outside designated, permanent fire rings and portable stoves. Smoking outside near vegetation, welding, using a chainsaw without a spark arrester and using explosives, such as fireworks are also prohibited.

Grand County Sheriff Brett Schroetlin and Grand Fire Assistant Chief Schelly Olson told commissioners Tuesday that conditions prompted them to request the fire ban.

3. What was that mushroom cloud formation seen from Vail on Monday evening?

Vail-area social media sites exploded with activity on Monday night as locals posted pictures of a mushroom cloud formation visible from most of Eagle County.

“What is that thing?” asked local real estate professional Broby Leeds.

Meteorologist Dennis Phillips was able to provide a quick answer: Phillips said Eagle County locals were enjoying the one storm cloud that was hanging out over Colorado.

4. 68-year-old dies skiing at Rocky Mountain National Park

Park rangers found a 68-year-old man who was skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park dead on Sunday.

The man from Loveland died in a 400-500 uncontrolled slide on a snowfield into rocks, according to park officials. The man was wearing a helmet and skiing alone. Bystanders witnessed the fall and tried to help as they notified park officials.

The man was skiing a north facing aspect on Sundance Mountain, midway between Trail Ridge Road and Old Fall River Road.

5. Lineup announced for Blues from the Top Music Festival

After 2019’s record attendance and talent lineup, the Blues From the Top Music Festival said it doesn’t plan to slow down.

This year, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Sugaray Rayford, Eric Gales, Ruthie Foster and A.J. Fullerton will play the one-of-a-kind event.

Presented by the Grand County Blues Society, the 18th annual Blues From the Top will be Aug. 14 at the Rendezvous Event Center at Hideaway Park in Winter Park.

Grand County police blotter, June 6-12

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office fielded 228 calls from June 6-12 while dispatchers answered 572 calls for all first-responder agencies in the county.

Sunday, June 6

6:22 a.m. — A cow was reported walking on Mill Avenue in Fraser toward the railroad tracks. Then a second caller saw the cow on US Highway 40 across from Bank of the West. The owner was contacted and picked up the cow.

6:07 p.m. — Tools were reported stolen from County Road 445 in Grand Lake.

Monday, June 7

7:08 p.m. — A car was reportedly broken into on Park Avenue in Kremmling and cash was stolen.

Tuesday, June 8

9:11 a.m. — Police responded to help a truck pulling a boat that got stuck in a drive-thru line on Zerex Street in Fraser.

9:28 p.m. — An unattended campfire was reported on US Highway 40 in Winter Park.

9:43 p.m. — A bonfire with high flames was reported on County Road 4627 in Grand Lake. Officers were unable to find a fire.

Wednesday, June 9

9:06 a.m. — Construction equipment struck a gas line on Garfield Street in Grand Lake. Xcel was notified and secured the line.

Friday, June 11

12:09 a.m. — Several vehicles parked at the picnic area on US Highway 34 in Granby were contacted by officers. The owners of the cars said they were sleeping there to avoid driving drunk.

10:19 a.m. — Trash was reportedly being burned at a camp site on County Road 6471 in Grand Lake.

12:28 p.m. — Shots fired were reported on County Road 84 in Tabernash.

12:38 p.m. — Dirt bikes were reported in the East Troublesome burn scar in Grand Lake. Officers were unable to locate anyone.

10:34 p.m. — Illegal campers were reported on County Road 6 in Granby.

Saturday, June 12

11:11 a.m. — Lambs were reported missing from a property on US Highway 40 in Hot Sulphur Springs.

These are a small number of the calls fielded by Grand County’s dispatchers, first-responders and law enforcement agencies. The police blotter was put together by the Sky-Hi News with information provided by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. It does not include any reports about alleged sexual assaults, child abuse, DUIs or domestic violence.

Man pleads guilty to pattern of child sex assault

Larry Darnell

A third man charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a child pleaded guilty in Grand County District Court on May 27 and will receive an indeterminate life sentence.

Under a deal that dropped all but the most serious charge, Larry R. Darnell, 51, pleaded guilty to felony sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust as part of a pattern.

Aside from entering his guilty plea, Darnell didn’t comment on his crimes. Judge Mary Hoak is scheduled to sentence him on Aug. 26 with the potential sentence ranging from 16 years to life.

An indeterminate life sentence is the harshest possible penalty for sex crimes in Colorado. With an indeterminate sentence, the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board will be responsible for the exact length of Darnell’s sentence, for which 16 years imprisonment is the minimum.

Darnell was arrested in February 2020 following a Grand County Sheriff’s Office investigation that led to three men being charged in connection to the case. Darnell is the third to plead guilty to the charges.

According to the arrest warrant, Darnell drugged the child with methamphetamine and assaulted the child over the course of at least two years. Additionally, Darnell was accused of allowing two other men — Eric R. Cordero, 48, and Daniel Gutierrez, 26 — to sexually assault the child in his presence.

In March, Cordero was sentenced to 18 years for assault with a deadly weapon and attempted sexual assault on person under 15 years. Gutierrez also pleaded guilty to the same charges in April. He will be sentenced July 22.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Dowdell said the conclusion of the three cases without trials is an ideal outcome for the victim.

“The resolution of these three cases brings closure and healing to the child victim, allowing the child to focus on moving forward with therapeutic support,” Dowdell said in a statement. “The dispositions of these cases prevent this child from being re-victimized because the child will not have to recount the horrors the child lived through during testimony at a trial for any one of these three offenders.”

Straight Creek Fire in Summit County 100% contained

Firefighters have fully contained the 8-acre Straight Creek Fire, according to the most recent update from U.S. Forest Service spokesperson David Boyd.

The fire started Thursday, June 10, about two miles east of Dillon in the Straight Creek area. Sunday afternoon, June 13, Hotshot crews completed their work reinforcing containment lines and mopping up the area. Local fire crews will continue to monitor the burn area.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, according to the Forest Service.

The Straight Creek Trail and Tenderfoot trail system remain closed.

 

Grand County police blotter, May 30-June 5

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office fielded 307 calls from May 30-June 5 while dispatchers answered 634 calls for all first-responder agencies in the county.

Sunday, May 30

12:38 p.m. — An ongoing issue with cars parking along US Highway 34 in Grand Lake.

2:14 p.m. — Two dark OHVs were reported on US Highway 34 headed to Granby, but police were unable to locate them.

4:34 p.m. — A property owner on US Highway 40 near milepost 193 outside Kremmling reported a smoking and flaming electric pole. Mountain Parks Electric was notified.

8:58 p.m. — Three people were reported illegally camping on private property on County Road 3 and County Road 30 near the Sugarloaf campground.

Monday, June 1

1:06 p.m. — A property owner found a bullet hole in the wall of his cabin on County Road 491 in Grand Lake.

Wednesday, June 3

8:30 p.m. — A ladder was reported in the middle of US Highway 34 near Granby.

Thursday, June 4

10:42 a.m. — A white Jeep with Florida plates was making bad passes and almost caused an accident on US Highway 40 in Granby.

12:16 p.m. — A brown and white spaniel was reportedly running loose at the Fraser ball fields, but animal control was unable to locate the dog.

2:09 p.m. — Smoke was reported on County Road 66 in Grand Lake that was confirmed to be a dust devil.

6:52 p.m. — A cow was reported on the shoulder of US Highway 40 in Kremmling.

Friday, June 5

10:22 a.m. — Cows were reported on County Road 3 in Granby. Police confirmed with the livestock owner that they were moving the cows to a new pasture.

These are a small number of the calls fielded by Grand County’s dispatchers, first-responders and law enforcement agencies. The police blotter was put together by the Sky-Hi News with information provided by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office. It does not include any reports about alleged sexual assaults, child abuse, DUIs or domestic violence.

Man to serve jail time for eluding police

Christopher Carnahan

A man was sentenced to jail time for eluding police during a traffic stop and bringing methamphetamine into the Grand County Jail.

On May 27, Grand County Judge Mary Hoak sentenced Christopher Carnahan, 37, to 30 days in jail, two years of supervised probation, 48 hours community service and a substance abuse evaluation and treatment for vehicular eluding, with 60 days of suspended jail time.

Carnahan told the judge he was appreciative of the plea deal, but hoped to avoid jail time because he’s at a different point in life where he’s trying to support a partner and children.

“I made a back step last year and there’s no excuse for it — I know I messed up,” he said. “I will prove to you, your honor, that I can do this. I have different motivations in my life, I’m almost 40 and I don’t have time for this anymore.”

In response, Chief Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Dowdell pointed to the danger Carnahan put the community in by eluding police and his previous criminal history.

Hoak did sentence Carnahan to some jail time, though a minimal amount, noting the risk to himself and the community that comes from eluding police.

“I’m hoping Mr. Carnahan has got this figured out and is going to move forward in a positive way,” Hoak said.

In addition, Carnahan’s lawyer asked for an exception to allow Carnahan to smoke medicinal marijuana for his epilepsy. Hoak said she would consider a motion to allow it if Carnahan gets an official medical marijuana card.

Carnahan was arrested in September when he rolled through a stop sign and police attempted to stop him, but he continued to drive until he was at his home. Police arrested him and, at the jail, discovered meth on Carnahan.

He originally faced charges of possession of a controlled substance, introducing contraband, vehicular eluding, driving while under the influence, failing to stop at stop signs, reckless driving and driving on a revoked license.

Carnahan is scheduled to report to jail on June 15.

 

Felony arrests: Woman caught receiving meth in mail also brought drugs into county jail, police say

Keetsa Kyle

Correction 6/16/21: This story has been corrected to reflect that Marcus Sanchez and Monica Duarte-Quintero were arrested for certain charges, but not formally charged with all of them by the 14th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

A woman who recently received methamphetamine through the mail is facing new charges for allegedly introducing meth to the Grand County Jail.

Keetsa A. Kyle, 39, has been charged with possession of a controlled substance, possession of contraband and introducing contraband after meth was found in a holding cell Kyle had been held in overnight, according to an arrest affidavit.

Kyle was arrested by Granby Police on May 12 for possession of a controlled substance, possession of paraphernalia and violation of a protection order.

The following day, officers moved Kyle to another cell and an inmate went in to clean the cell she had stayed in. The inmate allegedly found small baggies with meth in them and reported it to jail officers.

When police asked Kyle if she knew anything about the drugs, she admitted to officers that the drugs were hers and that she had smuggled them into the jail, according to the affidavit.

Kyle was also arrested in December after police were tipped off she had been receiving packages of meth in her post office box.

She pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute on April 19 under a deal that would cap her sentence at two years. She is scheduled to be sentenced on June 17. It’s unclear how the new charges will affect Kyle’s plea deal.

Couple charged with forgery

Kaitlin Duy

Police arrested a couple after they allegedly used counterfeit money for purchases at the Kum and Go in Granby.

Around 10 p.m. May 27, police responded to the gas station for a report of two purchases with fake bills. According to the arrest affidavits, the store clerk told police that a man and a woman — later identified as Kaitlin Duy and Benjamin Drake — had come in and bought around $50 worth of items before returning to purchase $50 in gas.

On the second purchase, another clerk noticed that the woman was acting suspiciously and, after checking the bill, found it was a fake. The clerk reportedly shut off the gas pump and the couple left in a dark truck.

When police arrived, they confirmed the bill was counterfeit and determined that the gas station had lost $73 between the two purchases.

Benjamin Drake

Another officer who was responding to the gas station saw a truck matching a description given by the clerk and took down its license plate. Upon running the plate, police found it was owned by Duy, who matched images from the store’s surveillance footage.

Later in the evening, an officer saw the truck on US Highway 40 and pulled it over. Drake and Duy allegedly confirmed they made the purchases at Kum and Go but denied any knowledge the bills were fake. The affidavit adds that Drake offered to pay for the items.

According to the affidavit, Duy told police she had recently bought tires through Facebook and could have gotten the fake money as change. However, officers also reported finding several fake bills totaling $750 in Duy’s truck, as well as several alcoholic shooters.

Police also noted that Duy smelled of alcohol and she allegedly admitted to drinking earlier in the day. Duy declined a roadside sobriety test and a breath test.

Drake was charged with forgery and theft. Duy was charged with forgery, theft, possession of a forged instrument and driving under the influence. Both are scheduled for court on June 22.

Charges levied in head-on crash

John Christopherson

A driver involved in a head-on wreck on Red Dirt Hill that caused serious injuries has been charged with vehicular assault.

John R. Christopherson, 34, is facing two charges of vehicular assault, possession of a controlled substance, driving under the influence, failing to maintain a lane and possession of drug paraphernalia.

According to an arrest warrant, Christopherson was driving with a passenger around 2 p.m. March 21 on US Highway 40 outside Granby when he crossed into the opposite lane and struck a white Ford.

All three people were taken to Middle Park Health for injuries. The affidavit said Colorado State Patrol determined Christopherson didn’t attempt to stop or swerve.

The warrant says a search of Christopherson’s car yielded a container of methamphetamine, two bongs, several pipes, a scale, plastic baggies and both full and open beer cans. Christopherson’s urinalysis was positive for meth, THC, MDMA and amphetamines.

He is scheduled to be in court on July 6.

Woman accused of trying to bribe officer

Monica Duarte-Quintero

Police arrested a woman twice in less than two weeks, each time with a traffic stop escalating into more serious felony charges.

On April 30, Monica Duarte-Quintero, 31, was charged with felony eluding, misdemeanor possession, violating a protection order, speeding, driving without a license, displaying expired license plates and having an open container.

According to the arrest affidavit, officers tried to stop Duarte-Quintero on US Highway 34 for speeding around 2 a.m., but when the officer turned on his lights, Duarte-Quintero sped up until both cars were traveling at over 100 mph.

The affidavit says Duarte-Quintero eventually pulled over on County Road 61 and exited her car. An officer said they could smell alcohol on Duarte-Quintero and noted glassy eyes and slurred speech. When asked why she failed to stop, Duarte-Quintero allegedly told police it was because she had been drinking.

According to the affidavit, Duarte-Quintero failed a voluntary field sobriety test, but her breath alcohol test came back at .024, which is under the legal limit. However, a search of the car reportedly led police to discover .5 grams of cocaine and a bottle of liquor.

Duarte-Quintero was taken to the Grand County Jail and posted bond.

According to another arrest affidavit, law enforcement officers also stopped Duarte-Quintero for driving dramatically under the speed limit and weaving on May 9.

In the report, police noted that Duarte-Quintero had glassy eyes, slurred speech and smelled of alcohol. She allegedly failed a field sobriety test, and officers saw a half-empty bottle of liquor in the vehicle.

She was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence, driving without a license, weaving, possessing an open container and three violations of bond conditions. Duarte-Quintero is scheduled to be in court on June 22.

Driver charged in rollover wreck in Kremmling

Marcus Sanchez

The driver involved in a rollover wreck outside Kremmling that caused serious injuries has been charged with vehicular assault.

Marcus A. Sanchez, 19, is facing charges of vehicular assault, driving under the influence, reckless driving and open alcoholic container after an April car wreck where his passenger was ejected over 50 feet from the car.

According to an arrest affidavit, Sanchez was driving himself and a passenger west through Kremmling around 2:30 a.m. April 29 at a high speed when the car rolled across US Highway 40 near the Kremmling Mercantile.

When officers arrived, Sanchez was being treated by EMS and allegedly told police he didn’t remember the crash, but had been drinking prior to driving. Sanchez allegedly failed a roadside sobriety test and the affidavit said police noted he smelled of alcohol and noted beer bottles inside his car.

The passenger was found outside the car unconscious and in critical condition. They were later airlifted to a Denver hospital for treatment.

Sanchez is scheduled to be in court on July 26.

The Sky-Hi News reports on felony arrests in Grand County. These reports were obtained through arrest affidavits and other law enforcement documents. The newspaper commits to continued reporting on these cases until they reach a resolution. All people accused of crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Hunter charged in shooting death goes to trial

Correction 6/16/21: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated charges for a 2018 hunting death in Grand County. The man identified in that incident, Randall Wolfswinkel, was charged with two misdemeanors — prohibited use of a weapon and hunting in a careless manner.

A man charged with criminally negligent homicide in connection to a deadly hunting incident last fall pleaded not guilty in Grand County District Court on May 27, setting his case for trial in October.

Harry Watkins, 52, is accused of shooting and killing 26-year-old Simon Howell of West Virginia on Nov. 9 while they were hunting outside Kremmling.

Few details about the incident have been publicly provided, but 14th Judicial District Attorney Matt Karzen indicated in November that the charges were brought because prosecutors believe Watkins’ behavior was reckless.

“The rules of hunting safety exist to keep this exact kind of tragedy from happening,” Karzen said in a news release announcing Watkins’ charges. “Complacency and lack of discipline is all it takes for someone to be killed.”

However, Watkins’ attorney, David Jones, described the case very differently. Over the phone, Jones said that Watkins made a reasonable mistake that a majority of hunters would make if put in the same situation.

Jones said that Howell had taken off his orange hunting vest and was wearing a red shirt when he climbed onto a dead elk. From Watkins’ stance behind the scope, Jones said, Watkins believed he was shooting at the elk as it was attempting to get up.

“This was an accident and it’s not appropriate to make him a murderer for a reasonable mistake,” the defense attorney said, adding that his client has been traumatized from the incident. “We wish this had never happened.”

Jones said he is confident the facts and the circumstances of the case will come out in Watkins’ favor.

On May 27, Watkins entered a not guilty plea via his attorney, moving the case forward for a 10-day trial this fall. Judge Mary Hoak set the trial for Oct. 25 through the first week of November with a motions hearing on Sept. 9.

According to Colorado statute, the maximum penalty for criminally negligent homicide includes one to three years with the Department of Corrections, unless there are mitigating or aggravating factors, and two years of mandatory parole.

Howell’s death occurred two years after the last fatal hunting incident in Colorado, which also happened in Grand County.

In November 2018, Ernest Ackerly, 43, of Centennial died after he was accidentally shot while his hunting party was preparing to head into the nearby forest off County Road 41. Investigators determined the rifle discharged while it was being loaded.

The man loading the rifle, Randall Wolfswinkel, 46, was charged in June 2020 with two misdemeanors — prohibited use of a weapon and hunting in a careless manner.

Wolfswinkel pleaded guilty in July 2020 and was sentenced to three years unsupervised probation, 300 hours of community service, a gun safety class and a $5,000 charitable donation.