Attorney wants judge to reject plea bargain
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – The attorney representing the victim in an Edwards hit-and-run accident is asking District Court Judge Frederick Gannett to reject the plea agreement made between the district attorney and defendant Martin Erzinger.
Harold Haddon filed a brief with district court Friday citing cases that set precedent for such a ruling, arguing that the district courts in the cited cases “rejected the plea bargains and required the district attorney to move forward with trial on the most serious charges, and those orders were affirmed on appeal.”
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has faced criticism over the plea bargain because it doesn’t include a felony charge. In a letter to the Vail Daily last month Hurlbert said he received more than 1,000 e-mails and phone calls in one weekend about the case, mostly criticizing him for his reasoning behind the deal, which included consideration for Erzinger’s job as a prominent Denver wealth manager.
Hurlbert has said Erzinger’s job factored into the reasoning behind the deal because he wouldn’t want Erzinger to lose his ability to pay restitution should he lose his job over the felony charge.
Dr. Steven Milo, the victim in the case, suffered serious injuries in the July 3 hit-and-run accident along Highway 6 in Edwards in which Erzinger was charged with leaving the scene. Milo, a 34-year-old New York anesthesiologist, has said justice in the case has never been about money.
“As you know, throughout this process I have never made any requests that your office obtain financial consideration from Mr. Erzinger. From the beginning, my goal has been to ensure that Mr. Erzinger is held accountable for the egregious nature of his conduct and its continuing effects on my family and me,” Milo wrote in a letter to both Hurlbert and Deputy District Attorney Mark Brostrom on Oct. 21.
Richard Tegtmeier, Erzinger’s attorney, said Haddon’s brief never once mentions that the incident was an accident. Tegtmeier said he has expert testimony that confirms Erzinger suffers from sleep apnea and fell asleep at the time of the accident, not knowing he had hit someone when he drove off.
“This might sound funny, but our expert says that sleepy people don’t know they’re sleepy,” Tegtmeier said. “That’s why he’s more likely than some to fall asleep while driving.”
The original charges included one felony offense for leaving the scene of an accident which caused serious bodily injury and two traffic misdemeanor charges.
Tegtmeier said there’s no basis for the felony charge because Erzinger allegedly didn’t know he hit someone. He said Haddon is just trying to intimidate the district attorney and the court “to press them to file an unjustified felony charge.”
Haddon claims that conversations with the District Attorney’s Office led Milo to believe prosecutors were pursuing the felony charge and that Hurlbert’s letter to the Vail Daily confirmed those conversations had been nothing but a “charade” because Hurlbert admitted that the plea offer had been made “months ago,” according to Haddon’s brief.
Haddon claims in the brief that plea deal had been struck without any discussion with Milo and that prosecutors were “disingenuously humoring him.”
The brief requests that the court not only reject the plea agreement but also require the disclosure of “all correspondence between the district attorney and Mr. Erzinger’s counsel, and disclosure of the date and substance of all plea negotiations to determine the nature and reasons for misleading the victim about the status of the plea bargain.”
Tegtmeier said he won’t be filing a response to Haddon’s brief because he already filed a response to Haddon’s objection to the plea bargain last month.
The parties will meet in court on Thursday in what will be the first hearing where all parties, including Erzinger and Milo, will be present. If the judge does reject the plea bargain, the case would then go to trial.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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