Attorney: System failed Routt inmate

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— The passionate argument attorney Cheryl Hardy-Moore gave last week in court in hopes of keeping her client out of jail seems sadly prophetic now that Jared Wayne Maynard is dead.
"If we put him in jail, he will be that much more emotionally damaged," Hardy-Moore said during Maynard's Oct. 26 sentencing for stealing an ambulance and assaulting a paramedic. "I don't think he will ever be successful."
Maynard, 20, died Tuesday at a Denver hospital, two days after the Houston man hanged himself outside his cell in the Routt County Jail. Maynard died after his family requested that life-support measures be removed at Denver Health Medical Center.
Maynard had just started to serve an 18-month jail sentence for the ambulance theft and the assault that occurred at the end of August.
His death made the 18-year attorney question the judicial system here.
"If he would have gone to treatment, he would still be alive," Hardy-Moore said Thursday. "It has been incredibly sad. I feel like the system has failed this person."
From the very beginning, Hardy-Moore believed Maynard needed to be put into a rehabilitation center where he could get treatment for a drug and alcohol problem.
After Maynard pleaded guilty to first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft and third-degree assault in September, Hardy-Moore knew how important keeping her client out of jail was.
"This is a case that calls out for treatment instead of incarceration," Hardy-Moore said at the time. "That is the way I see it, and I hope the judge does, too."
Maynard's father, William Maynard, appeared in District Judge Joel S. Thompson's courtroom on behalf of his son on the day of sentencing. The elder Maynard told Thompson of his son's struggle with drugs and alcohol. He also talked about his son's diagnoses of attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity and depression.
He said Jared had been in and out of three rehabilitation centers and that he had been bounced around the country attending private schools.
William Maynard, a Houston attorney, also told the court that a place had been reserved for his son in another rehabilitation center in California. The center treatment included psychiatric care.
But Judge Thompson believed Maynard had been given enough chances.
"Your son has had more advantages than most people that come before me," Thompson said during the sentencing. "Why should I believe now if I put him in a rehabilitation center he will be successful? At some point, we have to throw up our hands. I don't want to have to be concerned with what happens the next time."
Before sentencing Maynard to 18 months in jail and four years of probation, Thompson had ordered a pre-sentence investigation be conducted.
The investigation looks into the background of a person, including medical history. The recommendation that resulted for Maynard was that he be given four years of probation and be put in a treatment center, Hardy-Moore said.
"Thompson followed the recommendation, except he gave Jared 18 months in jail," she said. "The jail sentence was unexpected. If he would have been let out and he screwed up, he would have went to prison. Why did he need 16 more months in jail?"
Prior to the sentencing hearing, Maynard had served close to 60 days in jail.
He was arrested in the early morning hours of Aug. 28 at Colorado Mountain College after he got into the driver's seat of an ambulance that had responded to a call at the local college.
Maynard started to drive the vehicle but was stopped by a paramedic, who was in back of the vehicle with a patient. Before the ambulance came to a stop, Maynard grabbed the paramedic by her neck and pinned her against the dashboard.
Hardy-Moore is hopeful that there will be changes in the way the judicial system here handles similar cases.
"They need to be more sensitive to people who have mental problems and a little bit more cautious," she said. "In Jared's case, the district attorney assessed this case based on the police report and talking to the victim. The district attorneys here do not want to meet with the defendant.
"It is a very black and white system. It works 80 percent of the time, but there are people who, for whatever reason, have different reasons why these crimes are committed. There are some people that need a harder look at. How do we get the system to understand that there are people who do not fit the norm?"
Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James, who prosecuted the case, could not be reached for comment. During the sentencing hearing, St. James argued that Maynard had been given enough chances and a jail term was necessary.
On the same day Maynard was sentenced, he was evaluated by the Steamboat Mental Health Center. Sheriff John Warner has indicated the results of the evaluation determined Maynard was a low risk as far as being a danger to himself and others.
Immediately after the sentence was handed down, Maynard spat in the face a jail officer when the officer tried to escort him out of the courtroom to jail.
Robert DelValle, a Steamboat Springs detective, is investigating the hanging, along with two investigators from the Routt County Sheriff's Office.
Maynard hanged himself with a bed linen Sunday evening. He tied the linen to a second floor railing outside his jail cell.
Jail cells remain open during the daytime, so inmates can access the commons areas on the first and second floors. Next to Maynard's cell, a staircase leads to the first floor.
Maynard was found not breathing and without a pulse. Paramedics, including the one he assaulted in August, were able to get him breathing again. He was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center and then flown to Denver.
An autopsy and toxicology tests have been ordered by the Routt County Coroner's office. The results are expected to be available at the end of the week.
Hardy-Moore defended Maynard after she was hired by his family.
"This has been emotional from the very beginning," she said. "This will always be something I will remember. This is just a real sad situation. I feel incredibly sad for his parents and for Jared's despair."

To reach Gary E. Salazar call 871-4205 or e-mail gsalazar@amigo.net

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