Mario Pacheco sentenced to four years for cases in three counties
EAGLE — Mario Pacheco stood at the courtroom podium, his hands in front of him, and quietly thanked his judge for revoking his bond and putting him back in jail, where he could finally get clean and sober.
Pacheco was sentenced to a combined four years in state prison for the combined cases in Eagle, Garfield and Mesa counties.
Pacheco said he’s an alcoholic and drug addict, and that’s how he ended up back in District Court Judge Paul Dunkelman’s courtroom, standing at the podium awaiting sentencing, and also at the crossroads of criminal cases in Eagle, Garfield and Mesa counties.
‘i admit that’
“I am a drug addict. I admit that. Part of my addition is lying and deceiving,” he said, explaining how a man his age — 30 — ended up on that spot in Dunkelman’s courtroom.
During a previous jail sentence, Pacheco landed at Colorado’s state prison in Canon City; all bars, heavy steel doors and concrete. What he saw, he said, scared him straight.
“This round in DOC (Department of Corrections) was a shocker for me,” Pacheco said. “When you hear that cell door shut … the value of my life had gone down considerably.”
Pacheco apologized to Dunkelman for the language he was about to use, and forged ahead with his story.
“I pulled those blankets over my head when I was in that cell, and I knew I had really (fouled) up my life,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco spent some of his Canon City stretch with prison lifers, some on dialysis, some with little time left to live. Most needed someone to sit with them as they died. He spent months doing that.
Most asked him the same question.
“’You’re 30 years old. What are you doing here with a one-year sentence?’” Pacheco said.
Pacheco said he has been taking restorative justice classes in jail, and joined an Alcoholics Anonymous group.
That’s all well and good, Deputy District Attorney Courtney Gilbert said, but does not excuse Pacheco’s criminal behavior.
“The actions of the defendant speak loudly to his nature as a manipulator,” Gilbert said, asking for up to five years in prison.
Gilbert told the court Pacheco was out on bond when he failed to appear in Mesa County court for a felony case. He was also on probation for a Garfield County case.
“He did not make it two weeks on probation before he missed drug and alcohol tests and was back in jail,” Gilbert said.
Police apprehended Pacheco when a citizen called to tell authorities where he was. He fled when officers arrived, leading police on a high-speed chase through residential streets and parking lots. An incline launched his car into the air before crashing. Pacheco was charged with vehicular eluding along with a long list of other crimes.
“The defendant’s behavior is very risky. It puts public safety at risk and himself at risk,” Gilbert said
Defense attorney Thea Reiff disagreed.
“Failing to overcome addictions is not a reason for punitive sentencing,” Reiff said.
Citing a U.S. Surgeon General’s report, Reiff said, “Addiction needs to be seen as a chronic brain disease, and not a moral failing.”
Dunkelman said some sentences are more obvious that others, adding that Pacheco has had several opportunities to be successful, but that he is still young.
Staff writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.