by Jason Pohl, from The Coloradoan
Jose Pinon, 71, of Eaton, was sentenced on Friday to 90 days of straight time at the Larimer County Jail for fatally injuring 59-year-old Steve Studt on June 26, 2015. Eighth Judicial District Chief Judge Stephen Schapanski also sentenced Pinon to 600 hours of useful public service and four years of probation, all while sending a stark reminder to the community of the tensions that still arise between bicyclists and motorists in Northern Colorado.
“Accidents have different facts,” Schapanski said, distinguishing this case from other fatal crashes involving cyclists in recent years. In many of those, investigations indicated drivers were careless in many cases but not to the level of Pinon’s recklessness.
“…He made a series of bad decisions,” Schapanski said.
Pinon pleaded guilty in October to criminally negligent homicide, a Class 5 felony, for the crash on Kechter Road over Interstate 25. He was driving a dump truck on the narrow stretch of road when he came upon Studt’s yellow shirt and white helmet. After crossing the double-yellow line in an attempt to pass the cyclist, Pinon encountered oncoming traffic and veered back into his lane.
The rear passenger side of the Freightliner truck hit Studt, throwing him beneath the vehicle. Studt died days later at an area hospital.
The plea was a last-minute move that side-stepped a trial by jury that was slotted to for November — the case dragged on because Pinon first hired a private attorney before opting for representation from the public defender’s office. He had been charged with a more serious count of vehicular homicide-reckless driving, but the charge was amended as part of the plea deal. The other reckless driving charge was dismissed.
Pinon could have been sentenced to up to three years in prison. However, neither attorneys nor Studt’s family thought that was the best course of action.
Citing Steve Studt’s charitable attitude — from volunteering with homeless populations to cleaning up trails and open spaces — his son, Daniel Studt, saw sentencing as “an opportunity to fill the void left in the community.”
Schapanski encouraged but did not mandate that the 150 hours annually of community service be applied to bike-specific organizations.
Pinon’s public defender, Tracy Lowrey, repeatedly highlighted the man’s spotless history. The past 18 months have been grueling and he has lost his job as a trucker, she said. By pleading guilty to a felony, he runs the risk of being deported to Mexico when he reapplies for residency next year — he has had lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. for 40 years.
Read the full story at The Coloradoan.