DA files motion asking judge to reconsider rejection of Wilson plea agreement
Grand County District Attorney Brett Barkey filed a motion Tuesday morning requesting Judge Mary Hoak reconsider her recent rejection of a plea agreement in the ongoing case of Brandon Wilson.
Hoak formally rejected a plea agreement for Brandon Wilson, who was previously charged with multiple criminal counts in relation to an August 2017 crash on Highway 9 south of Kremmling that resulted in the death of Wilson’s friend, Brian Ward. Under the terms of that agreement, Wilson, a Denver resident, would have pleaded guilty to vehicular assault, DUI and careless driving causing death. The plea agreement included the dismissal of seven other charges including vehicular homicide, vehicular assault reckless driving and improper U-turn.
Hoak noted in her rejection last week that the maximum sentence was far too low and that the plea bargain did not provide a sentence the defendant deserved in relation to the seriousness of the offense.
Barkey’s motion requested the court vacate its Sept. 3 order and reset the matter for Sept. 20 to “allow the victims to be heard and to hear further argument in support of the agreement.”
The motion, totaling nine pages, covers a wide range of issues related to criminal justice proceedings including the Colorado Victim’s Rights Act and the National Prosecution Standards District Attorney’s rely upon while pursuing convictions in court cases. The motion makes multiple references to the victims in the case and the surviving family members of Ward.
“All victims were in support of the agreement, with the exception of certain surviving family member(s) of the deceased expressing a desire for complete dismissal of the matter without prosecution of any kind,” the motion stated.
The motion also noted a pre-sentence investigation report from the probation department that recommended the court accept the plea agreement, meaning “all persons with knowledge of the case, and a statutory right (or obligation) to give input to the court were in support,” according to the motion.
“The defendant is accepting a permanent felony conviction — something in and of itself a significant component of punishment, as the collateral consequences for this defendant are profound,” read the motion. “Further, the defendant is, in the end, accepting a three-year prison sentence — the unequivocal voluntary surrendering of his physical liberty for over 1,000 days. This is in addition to living the remainder of his life with the error in judgment he made, and the knowledge of the role he played in the death of his close friend.”
The motion goes on to argue in conclusion that, while the charges against Wilson are not uncommon, “true justice cannot be achieved if the case is measured primarily by the cold and abstract elements of a given offense without prioritizing the unique facts, circumstances and context.”
“Retribution is a well-recognized and often important component of criminal sentencing,” stated the district attorney’s motion. “However, if it is given too prominent a place in the complex analysis of what constitutes justice, it transforms into raw vengeance — a bare human emotion unrestrained by mercy. This is neither just for the offender, nor for the surviving family members.”
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