Lake County judge gives Avon woman one more chance
LEADVILLE — A Lake County judge gave an Avon woman one more chance to pull her life out of the bottom of a bottle, instead of throwing her in prison for a decade and a half, her attorney said.
Ashby Capito, 37, of Avon, was sentenced recently to 60 days with work release for felony DUI, her seventh alcohol-related driving conviction since 1997. She faced up to 14 years in prison, and still does if she violates her the terms of her sentence. Lake County District Court Judge Jonathan Shamis handed down the sentence.
“Honorable Judge Shamis handed down a fair and tough sentence under the circumstances,” said Taggart Howard, Capito’s defense attorney.
Howard said that before his client was sentenced, local probation officers recommended that Capito not be sent to state prison, but instead receive a treatment-oriented sentence with 60 days jail up front.
“This program saves the taxpayer $40,000 per year for incarceration in the Department of Corrections,” Howard said.
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District Attorney Bruce Brown was upset with what he said was a lenient sentence, saying someone with only two misdemeanors would likely receive this sort of sentence.
“If this defendant had two prior convictions, a misdemeanor, she would have received a minimum of 60 days jail. The sentence imposed of 60 days for six priors is logically irreconcilable with the felony she was convicted of,” Brown said.
“DA Bruce Brown was not present at the sentencing, and may not have fully understood all of the mitigation that was presented,” Howard said. “Ms. Capito will be on a short leash. Judge Shamis’ sentence has a punitive aspect that has not been mentioned in other news articles.”
Capito will serve 14 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections if there are any violations of her sentence, Howard said.
“This sentence reflects the seriousness of the offense, the current state of the law as well as all mitigation offered at sentencing. The 14-year prison sentence is more than twice what the District Attorney recommended. It is punitive and absolutely is a deterrent.”
Prosecutor Johnny Lombardi asked Judge Shamis for a six-year prison sentence.
If Capito successfully completes probation, then she will serve no more jail time than the minimum term for people with only two prior convictions, despite her six priors, Brown said.
On July 5, 2016, Capito’s blood alcohol level was .20 — more than twice the legal limit — and she also had a prescription drug in her system, police said.
She was driving a Jeep Cherokee at 55 mph in a 35 mph zone, police said, when she careened off U.S. Highway 24 in Leadville and collided into a home occupied by a local family.
The speeding Jeep slid backward 417 feet, through 10 feet of a church fence, into a metal pole, then into a temporary structure and finally into the occupied home.
The force of Capito’s crash knocked a refrigerator away from an interior wall in the home.
“The danger to public safety is perpetuated by an act of judicial leniency which screams for a fix,” Brown said. “The result in this case is not sensible at all.”
Colorado’s DUI law
Brown said the Colorado legislature is considering new laws that he said will bring “sensible sentencing” for felony DUI’s.
“I look forward to supporting legislation which creates a comprehensive structure where people who repeatedly violate DUI laws face increasing, not decreasing, punishment,” Brown said.
“I agree that the felony DUI law is incongruent with misdemeanor DUI sentencing,” Howard said. “But, at the same time, this current felony DUI law allows Colorado judges to take into consideration the person’s participation in intensive inpatient treatment, psychological treatment, addiction treatment, 12-step meetings, the person’s willingness to get sober and many other factors before handing down a sentence. This allows the sentencing judge the ability to give the client the tools to attempt to break the cycle of addiction.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.