Judge Hoak denies request to reconsider Brandon Wilson plea agreement
Plea and sentencing hearing set for Jan. 17
November 19, 2018
A motion to reconsider a plea agreement in an ongoing case related to a fatal car crash that occurred on Highway 9 in 2017 was rejected by District Court Judge Mary Hoak earlier this month.
Hoak filed her ruling denying the request to reconsider on Nov. 7; nearly two full months after 14th Judicial District Attorney Brett Barkey filed his motion on Sept. 11. In his mid-September motion Barkey asked the court to reconsider a plea agreement previously worked out between the DA's office and defendant Brandon Wilson. Hoak rejected that plea agreement on Sept. 3.
As part of that plea agreement Wilson pleaded guilty to reckless vehicular assault, driving under the influence and carless driving resulting in death. Under the plea agreement Wilson would have faced a maximum of three years in prison. In her earlier ruling rejecting that plea agreement Hoak noted the seriousness of the incident that led to Wilson's charges while noting the potential penalty Wilson would face was too lenient.
"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 stated in her Sept. 3 ruling. “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.”
In her early November ruling, denying the DA's motion to reconsider the plea agreement, Hoak reiterated her earlier statement.
"The Court, in its Order Rejecting the Parties' Plea Agreement, issued on September 3, 2018, rejected the parties' plea agreement in this matter based on the charging and sentencing concessions granted by the People because the Court found, among other things, that the plea agreement diminished the serious nature of the Defendant's crimes," Hoak stated. "The Court stated it is unwilling to send a message to this community that the serious crimes of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault warrant such charging and sentencing concessions."
Hoak's Nov. 7 ruling goes on to delve into issues related to the Victim's Rights Act and court requirements to take the wishes of victims into consideration during court proceedings. The statements made by Hoak are references to the other parties impacted by events that occurred on Aug. 12 2018.
On that date defendant Brandon Wilson was driving a 2015 Chevrolet Equinox north on Highway 9 south of Kremmling. Wilson pulled the Equinox onto the northbound shoulder of Highway 9 before making a u-turn. After Wilson initiated the u-turn he collided with a 2005 Chevrolet Silverado that was traveling northbound on Highway 9 a short distance behind the Equinox.
The collision resulted in the death of Wilson's friend and passenger Brian Ward as well as injuries ranging from minor to serious for the other individuals involved in the crash. Court documents related to the case note the "victims in this matter support the agreement, except for some victims who would like the case dismissed."
"The Court took the victims' wishes into account when it rejected the plea agreement in this matter," Hoak wrote in her ruling. "The Court is not insensitive to the victims' wishes in this matter, but there is a difference between treating someone with respect and dignity and doing what someone wants."
"From the People's characterization in their motion, one would think the Defendant's actions were an accident and this Court has singled him out for unfair treatment," Hoak writes near the end of her ruling. "This is not true. The Defendant chose to consume alcohol to excess and then operate a motor vehicle with tragic consequences. Through charging and sentencing concessions, the plea bargain in this case fails to assure the imposition of a sentence the Defendant deserves in relation to the seriousness of his offense, does not assure the fair and consistent treatment of all convicted offenders by eliminating unjustified disparity in sentences, provide fair warning of the nature of the sentence to be imposed, and establish fair procedures for the imposition of sentences, and does not prevent crime sand promote for the law by providing an effective deterrent to others likely to commit similar offenses."
Judge Hoak's ruling from Nov. 7 set a 15-minnute arraignment for Brandon Wilson's case on Nov. 15. Following those proceedings Wilson is scheduled to reappear in court at 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 17 for a plea and sentencing hearing. Officials from the Grand County Court Clerk's Office said no new plea agreement paperwork has been submitted to the court as of Monday morning.