Plea deal goes before judge in Eagle Thursday
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Colorado State Trooper John Lent was confident with filing a felony charge in the case against prominent Denver investment banker and Arrowhead second-home owner Marty Erzinger last July, but that felony charge might not stand in court Thursday.
The charge, failure to remain at the scene of a accident causing serious bodily injury, was dropped in the plea bargain offered to Erzinger by District Attorney Mark Hurlbert. Thursday, District Court Judge Frederick Gannett has the final decision as to whether the court will accept that plea bargain.
Lent, the officer who arrested Erzinger later that day, said he’s referring all inquiries from the media to the Colorado State Patrol’s public information office because of the national media attention the case has received.
Colorado State Patrol spokesman Eric Wynn said troopers file charges based on the crime itself and whether that crime falls within the specific elements needed for that specific charge.
“Based on the evidence and based on the circumstances, each statute carries elements why a certain charge applies, and it met the elements (for the felony charge),” Wynn said. “We may charge somebody with something, but as far as guilt or innocence, it’s left up to the courts.”
Hurlbert’s reasoning for offering two lesser misdemeanor charges has brought the case into the national media spotlight. Hurlbert has faced criticism over the deal after stating that Erzinger’s job as a prominent Denver wealth manager factored into the thinking behind dropping the felony.
Hurlbert has said Erzinger’s job was a factor because he wouldn’t want him to lose his ability to pay restitution in the case should he lose his job over the felony charge, although the victim in the case, Dr. Steven Milo, has said justice in the case has nothing to do with money.
Erzinger is charged with hitting Milo, a New York City anesthesiologist, who was cycling eastbound on Highway 6 near Miller Ranch Road in Edwards July 3, from behind and then leaving the scene of the accident. Witnesses reported that a black Mercedes hit Milo, went into a ditch and then continued driving eastbound at a fairly high speed.
Erzinger’s attorney, Richard Tegtmeier, is arguing his client suffers from sleep apnea and dozed off during the accident and then woke up, not having realized he hit anyone.
Lent’s police report states that after the attending physician stated he couldn’t find anything medically wrong with Erzinger, nor did he believe Erzinger was under the influence of any intoxicating substances, Lent then arrested Erzinger and charged him with failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury, a felony, failure to notify police of an accident and careless driving causing bodily injury, both misdemeanors.
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