Fatal DUI suspect waives hearing
Vail, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION ” Before the parents, brother and sisters of the teens he is accused of killing in a high-speed, drunk driving wreck March 22, Patrick Strawmatt waived his right to a preliminary hearing Monday afternoon.
The action marked one of the initial steps in the legal process involving Strawmatt, 42, a former cop now charged with two counts of first-degree murder.
He remains in Mesa County Jail on $1 million bond.
Strawmatt is accused of killing Jennifer Kois and Jake Brock, both 19-year-old college students, after allegedly slamming his SUV into the back of their car, while fleeing from police on Interstate 70 near Clifton.
One witness estimated his speed at 120 mph.
Monday afternoon, Kois’ mother and stepfather, Liane and Pete VonFeldt, and Brock’s parents, Marilyn and Vern Brock, filed into court, along with other family members, to watch the proceeding.
District Judge Brian Flynn allowed Strawmatt’s attorney, public defender David Eisner, 60 days to receive and then distribute Strawmatt’s medical information to the prosecution. Flynn set Strawmatt’s arraignment for Aug. 10 at 1 p.m. At that time, he is expected to enter a plea.
Later, Eisner said he expected “there will be” mitigating factors in his client’s medical history that may help Strawmatt.
District Attorney Pete Hautzinger said he didn’t know much about Strawmatt’s purported medical problems “other than what I’ve read in the press.”
The 60 days will also give prosecution and defense time to review autopsy reports on the two teens.
During a separate incident in Park County on Feb. 15, Strawmatt told officers he’d recently had heart surgery. A search of his vehicle turned up prescription medicine, a bottle of whiskey and his suspended Colorado driver’s license, court records indicate.
On Feb. 15, Strawmatt allegedly punched Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener after ramming the officer’s patrol car during a pursuit. He bonded out of jail the next day.
Hautzinger spent considerable time talking with Kois’ and Brock’s family members after Monday’s proceeding.
Hautzinger said he expected Strawmatt to enter a not-guilty plea on Aug. 10 “and for us to be headed to trial,” with an actual trial date of January or February.
The district attorney also said he would not enter into a plea bargain agreement with Strawmatt without first discussing the issue with the victims’ families.
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