Negligent homicide trial gets under way
Did a man shun his obligation to rescue an adult who was at risk of freezing to death while lying drunk outside during a cold night?
Or is that man fundamentally not responsible if help was extended, but resisted?
Or, could it be that man somehow caused injury to the other?
Represented by Hot Sulphur Springs Attorney Jack DiCola, Beau Grega, 25, formerly of Winter Park, is on trial for criminally negligent homicide in the death of Kevin Gilbert, 44, of Winter Park, who died from hypothermia in the early morning of Nov. 25, 2009.
In the 14th Judicial District Court, Judge Mary Hoak presiding, District Attorney Elizabeth Oldham and Deputy District Attorney Heather Shwayder-Hughes have the burden of proving beyond doubt that Grega failed to help Gilbert that night after the two had been drinking and socializing with friends at Deno’s Mountain Bistro.
By noon on Tuesday, Aug. 31, two days into a possible five-day trial, the prosecution’s witnesses never said they saw exactly what happened outside a trailer on Wanderer’s Way that night, the site where Gilbert spent the last hours of his life.
Former Deno’s bartender, Gregory Stone, now a Florida resident, testified that Gilbert was served roughly 2 to 3 beers that night and about 2 to 3 shots of Jagermeister dropped in glasses of the energy drink Red Bull.
Stone said he may have served Grega about “two cocktails,” but the bartender had trouble remembering whether Grega took part in rounds of “Jager-bomb” shots Gilbert had bought.
Kayla Beougher, who had dated Grega for about five months, is the one who found Gilbert in a state of hypothermia outside of her and her roommates’ trailer the next morning.
She testified that Grega had texted her that cold night when both Grega and Gilbert were at Deno’s, asking if both he and Gilbert could spend the night at the trailer. Beougher testified that both Gilbert and Grega came to the trailer at a late-night hour when everyone at the house was sleeping, but that she never once saw Gilbert, who remained outside.
Beougher indicated there was noise outside the trailer – noise that her roommate at the time, Rebecca Hake, became annoyed with, according to Hake’s testimony – but Beougher denied it sounded like a fight or an argument.
At one point, Grega came into the house and allegedly said, “Hang on, I’m going to warm up and try this again,” Beougher said.
Grega then returned outside, and neither Beougher nor Hake heard or knew what happened after that, according to testimony at the trial.
Further testimony revealed that Grega, who worked as a pizza cook at Deno’s, had gone to a co-worker’s house to crash for the night because his own bus-turned-living space was too cold.
Police had reported in statements following the incident that temperatures had dipped to below zero that night.
Emergency Medical Technician Brian Roland told jurors that Gilbert, found barely alive early the next morning, was missing a front tooth, and testimony later in the trial brought up the fact there was blood found in the alley of Wanderer Way, and that there allegedly was blood seen on Grega’s nose the next morning.
“Criminal negligence” means that a person “through a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise, fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.”
Grega was arrested longer than a month after Gilbert’s death. If convicted, Grega faces a possible penalty of one to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections, and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000.
Witnesses for the trial were selected by noon on the first day of the trial which, according to Schwayder Hughes, took less time than attorneys expected given “the publicity” on the case.
Hoak has repeated that she is holding attorneys firm to a 3 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3, trial wrap-up.
The defense is expected to call witnesses and present its case when the prosecution rests.
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