Not guilty

Robbins cleared of manslaughter charges from 2005 accident

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— A former Clark resident was found not guilty Wednesday of reckless manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in connection with a fatal car wreck in June 2005.

The verdict came at the conclusion of a two-day trial in Hot Sulphur Springs.

Daniel Robbins, 31, cried as witnesses recounted the accident that killed 22-year-old Clark resident Jeffery Harris, Robbins' attorney Charles Feldmann said Wednesday.

"It was just a tragic case," Feldmann said. "The accident was tragic because a best friend was killed, but there just wasn't the evidence present to support the crazy notion that (Robbins) was going 130 mph."

This is the second time Grand County Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Edwards prosecuted the case. Robbins' first trial ended in a mistrial in December 2006 after attorneys received information that Harris had allegedly refused a blood transfusion after sustaining critical injuries in the accident.

In addition to the two trials, four plea offers were proposed, but the Harris family did not approve of any of them.

Robbins was arrested after he reportedly lost control of the 2005 Dodge Viper he was driving south of Kremmling on Colorado Highway 9. The car struck a guardrail, killing Harris.

Estimates of Robbins' speed at the time of the accident have ranged from 74 mph to more than 120 mph. Feldmann's accident reconstructionist, Ann Stadola, figured Robbins hit the rail between 74 and 81 mph. However, Colorado State Patrol investigators, including an investigation conducted by Sgt. David Ozanic, indicated Robbins had been traveling well above 100 mph at the time of the accident.

During Tuesday's trial, Colorado State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar, who was Edwards' expert accident reconstructionist in the case, told Edwards minutes before he was scheduled to take the stand he could no longer testify that Robbins had been traveling more than 100 mph because Ozanic's calculations had somehow changed.

"In the weeks before (Monday's) trial, (Ozanic) told an investigator that he was not comfortable with the speed calculations he had initially come up with, which had always been used as fact," Kaspar said Wednesday.

Edwards was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

Fourteenth Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink said she was not familiar enough with the facts of the case to make a statement, but that she was "very sorry" for the Harris family.

"It was a tragedy," she said. "I have deep sympathy for the family."

Dan Harris, Jeffery Harris' father, said he was disappointed the jury wasn't able to hear Kaspar's testimony before making its decision.

"Justice wasn't even close to being served here," he said. "We fought all the way to the end. We stood for what we felt was right."

Feldmann said he hopes both families involved in the case will be able to find closure in the jury's verdict.

"Murder trials are pretty rare - especially up here," he said. "I'm relieved for both sides that this part is over and the families can begin to move on."

Comments

katobe 7 years, 10 months ago

I just read that story during my break. The Harris' have our deepest sympathy for the loss of their son. We too have "fought all the way to the end. We stood for what we felt was right." as quoted by Mr. Harris. This is why I am so compelled to do what the community has been asking for, for years, a recall effort, to stop the acts of "justice wasn't even close to being served here" again, quoted by Mr. Harris.

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peabody123 7 years, 10 months ago

A Not Guilty verdict in the driving case in Hot Sulpher Springs is a perfect example as to why Ms. Rosenk should be recalled. What on earth was the prosecuting attorney doing ?? Apparently not preparing for trial. He caused a mistrial when he had to turn over information that he only learned DURING the trial. Why was that ? Hadn't he prepared the case? Then he claims to find out DURING the retrial that his so-to-speak CSP "expert" cannot testify as to the speed of the defendant's vehicle. AND, we find out that the Trooper knew of his inability to testify "weeks" before the trial. Why didn't the DA know this ?? How is it that the DA cannot get a conviction for reckless manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide ( or careless driving causing death) when there is testimony by the defendant's expert that the defendant is speeding at 74 to 81 mph? Ms. Roesink says that she just doesn't know about the facts of this case. Apparently her Deputy DA doesn't either. Isn't it her job to supervise cases such as this? This is a perfect example as to why she needs to be recalled. Please join with me in signing the recall petition.

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katobe 7 years, 10 months ago

I agree 100%. Yes it is her responsibility as DA. Our case wasn't reviewed by the DA until 12/6/06, 10 months after the accident. Your words are perfect as it mirrors our frustrations with the DA. I have listened to story after story from other victims with the same complaints. You have until April 9th to sign.

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id04sp 7 years, 10 months ago

The only way the "calculations" could have changed during the trial is for some of the measurements or other going-in assumptions to have changed.

Why would the reconstructionist change his assumptions? Professional duty? Honest mistake? Bakshish?

This trial should probably have been a civil suit in the first place.

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katobe 7 years, 10 months ago

The accident itself is a criminal charge not civil. Therefore, the DA's responsibility of People v. Robbins. It is the families choice to file a civil suit. Each is represented independently. The family is/was looking for justice for a man that took their loved ones life with a motor vehicle and violated the laws and regulations of our Colorado highways. The investigating trooper on this case and ours is the best in the state and is trying to serve and protect but keeps getting batted down by the DA. An excerpt from the petition reads, "she has lost the confidence of the public, law enforcement and others in the criminal justice system"

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lunasol75 7 years, 10 months ago

With all due respect to the Harris family who has suffered a great tragedy in the loss of their son, it seem archaic and cruel to have charged Mr. Robbins with murder. This was a tragic case, no doubt, but it was also an accident. Will it make the world a better place to see Mr. Robbins suffer. He has suffered enough. He lost his best friend just as the Harris family lost its son. Do we really still believe in an eye for an eye and in swift, unforgiving justice?

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peabody123 7 years, 10 months ago

Following through with the last post I assume that the DA should never have prosecuted this case. However, they choose to do so and totally botched the job. Ms. Roesink should be recalled for either or both reasons.

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