Court rejects plea agreement for Brandon Wilson, driver in Highway 9 crash that killed Brian Ward
A plea agreement for Denver resident Brandon Wilson, accused of charges related to a fatal two-vehicle crash on Highway 9 in August 2017, was rejected by District Court Judge Mary Hoak earlier this week.
Wilson, who was due to be sentenced Sept. 5, pleaded guilty in late July to reckless vehicular assault, driving under the influence and careless driving as part of a plea agreement. Hoak rejected that agreement Sept. 3.
“While expressing concern about the plea bargain and whether it was acceptable, the court tentatively accepted the plea agreement and ordered a presentence investigation in this matter,” Hoak stated in a document rejecting the plea.
Hoak noted that the plea agreement would have seen Wilson plead guilty to three separate charges while dismissing seven others, including the most serious charges of vehicular homicide.
“This is an extremely serious case in which an individual died as a result of the defendant driving while impaired if not, which appears far more likely, under the influence of alcohol,” Hoak wrote. “The defendant killed one of his passengers, seriously injured two others, moderately injured himself and a remaining passenger.”
Hoak further stated that the plea agreement would limit the potential prison sentence Wilson would face to a maximum of three years and noted that, to the court’s knowledge, the prosecution had no “evidentiary problems in this matter.”
“… The court finds the charging concessions diminish the serious nature of the defendant’s crimes and the court finds the maximum sentence available to the court in this matter to be far too low, given the serious nature of the crime in question,” Hoak said. “This court is unwilling to send a message to the community that driving drunk, killing an individual … and causing property damage is satisfied by a maximum of three years in prison.”
The plea bargain does not provide a sentence Wilson deserves in relation to the seriousness of the offense, according to Hoak.
“This judge has thought long and hard about the plea agreement in this matter, has tried to find a way to accept it, and simply cannot,” she said.
The parties are welcome to present another plea agreement to the court or begin moving the case towards trial, according to Hoak. The case involving Wilson was rescheduled for a status conference on Sept. 20. Hoak noted the court would not accept a plea agreement or move directly to sentencing during that conference.
At around 4:11 p.m. Aug. 12, 2017, Wilson was driving a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox northbound on Highway 9 south of Kremmling. At the same time, a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado 3500, pulling a trailer, was also traveling northbound behind the Equinox.
As the two vehicles approached milepost 128, the Equinox, driven by Wilson, pulled onto the northbound shoulder of the highway and then made a U-turn into the southbound lane. As it did, the Silverado, which was behind the Equinox, struck the driver’s side of the Equinox.
The collision resulted in the death of 33-year old Brian Ward of Denver who was a passenger in the Equinox. Four other individuals inside the Equinox, including Wilson, sustained injuries ranging from minor to serious. The occupants of the Silverado also sustained minor injuries. Wilson was the only individual to receive criminal charges related to the incident.
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