Vail Daily letter: This is justice?
Eagle, CO Colorado
“Anatomy of an accident” as reported in the Vail Daily is also a case study in the administration of justice. Mr. Erzinger, the defendant in the case, is a well-to-do financial manager with homes in Denver and the Vail Valley, and has a driver’s license with no apparent restrictions such as “sleep apnea” or blindness.
The defendant was driving his new Mercedes at a “high rate of speed” (according to one witness) on Highway 6 near Avon when he suddenly fell asleep in the immediate area of where two slow-moving bicyclists were riding. The defendant struck one of the bicyclists (Dr. Milo, the victim) with such an impact as to cause his bicycle to be thrown 43.2 feet, and severely injuring him.
After that collision, (with no injuries to himself) the defendant apparently awakened, and proceeded 195.5 feet through the grass and debris, hit a culvert, re-entered the highway where he then drove another 3.3 miles to Avon without mishap. In Avon, when he was questioned by the police, he stated that he “didn’t remember the collision” and that he had blacked out (not fell asleep) even though he apparently remembered that there was a collision, which is corroborated by his assertion that he had called 911. At the scene of the collision when he had awakened from his slumber, and knew that he hit something or someone, why didn’t he investigate or call 911 then and there?
After being lawyered up by his highly paid, disingenuous and creative attorney, the defendant then maintained that he did not “black out” but for the first time in his life suffered from sleep apena at the convenient and approximate time and place where he struck the victim. Subsequent to that event has the defendant had any further bouts of sleep apena? With this alleged affliction, are the people of the state of Colorado still allowing the defendant to drive around on highways frequented by schoolchildren, pedestrians, jay-walkers, bicyclists, and other vehicles?
This extraordinary and novel defense was then sold to the DA, whereupon the felony charge would be withdrawn per a plea agreement so the defendant could keep his influential and high-paying job.
At the entry of plea hearing on the 16th of this month, with no regard for the interests of the victim, the DA filed a motion to bar any testimony from the victim that would possibly dissuade the judge from rejecting the packaged deal; the compassion and empathy displayed by the DA is simply overwhelming!
Are not the interests of the victim a concern to the supposedly impartial court when it comes to the equity of a plea and the sentence to be imposed upon the defendant, if any? Is it not the function of the DA to prosecute the case, present the facts to the jury, and argue against the novel defenses (sleep apnea) proffered by the defendant?
Is it not the function and duty of the jury to weigh the evidence regarding the facts, and then render a reasonable and unbiased decision within the parameters of the law? Is it not the function and duty of the court to provide a fair forum to adjudicate the case, and then to impose a just and perhaps compassionate sentence or penalty?
The acceptance of this plea agreement by the judge is tantamount to answering the above questions with a resounding “No”! In other words, the elitist defendant, his attorney and the DA can simply package the case, and closet the judge from any contrary or contradictory information in order to sell the tale to the court.
Does money buy justice or does it abort it? Are the economic interests of the criminal perpetrator paramount to those of the victim? When we caption a criminal case as “The People of the State of Colorado vs. Martin Erzinger, Defendant,” does that seemingly indicate that the people, by way of a jury, are involved in the process? It is the province of the jury to determine the truth and veracity of the “sleep apnea” tale, and not the two lawyers to make that call behind closed doors.
It appears that the defendant in this charade had two attorneys, and the people did not make any appearance in the case. One, and perhaps the only one, consolation for Dr. Milo, is the fact that now he is joined by more victims in this episode: the people of the state of Colorado.
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