Steamboat Springs A Steamboat Springs man who killed his friend in a 1996 drunk driving accident could be a free man today.
Dennis Wayne Loeser, 28, was sentenced to six years in prison last year for violating his probation from the vehicular homicide conviction.
Loeser was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol in 1998 in Kentucky, two years after receiving 10 years probation and serving 55 days in jail for killing his friend, Jesse Bollinger, in a rollover accident on Steamboat Boulevard.
In District Court on Monday, Judge Richard Doucette rescinded the prison sentence and put Loeser back on probation for 10 years. Loeser had served almost six months in prison since being sentenced in October.
During that time, he completed a 99-hour addiction recovery program and a 130-day boot camp program where he said he learned discipline.
"Things don't always go the way you want them to and you don't have to get high or drunk because of it," Loeser said.
Loeser told a crowd of high school students, who were in court for another case, that driving drunk the day his friend was killed was the worst decision of his life.
"It's not worth it," he said. "If you have that choice, I hope you never take it."
Doucette said he was giving Loeser "one more chance," saying he sentenced him to the six years in prison for "shock value."
"You gave him that chance," Deputy District Attorney Charles Feldmann said. "What I'm concerned about is being responsible for taking that chance again."
Public Defender Bill Schurman said the state prison system can't offer Loeser more programs that are useful.
"Mr. Loeser will simply stagnate in prison," Schurman said.
As a condition of his four years of supervised probation and six years of unsupervised probation, Loeser must successfully complete a "tough" addiction program in his hometown, Louisville, Ky.
"I'm hopeful you mean what you say and you can take this treatment and change your life," Doucette said. "If you fail to complete that program, you will serve that time."
Loeser was returned to the Routt County Jail Monday afternoon, but the judge said that as soon as the probation paperwork was completed, he is free.
-- To reach Michelle Bales call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org