Summit County court postpones trial for December hit-and-run case
The trial of a Breckenridge woman, following a December 2014 hit-and-run case, was postponed for early next year. Hallie Schmitt, 24, was originally set to go to appear on Oct. 6, but the trial date was vacated after a motion by the defense to drop one of her charges.
“A complex legal issue has come up, and the court has agreed it needs to be litigated,” deputy district attorney Rusty Prindle said after a Wednesday, Sept. 16 hearing.
Todd Barson, Schmitt’s defense attorney, said the charge in question was failure to remain at the scene of an accident causing serious bodily injury, a class-four felony.
“In Colorado, a person can be charged with that without ever being involved in the accident,” he said. “You could be convicted of leaving the scene of an accident when you didn’t even know there was even an accident.”
In addition, Schmitt is charged with vehicular assault, a class-five felony, and failure to report an accident, a class-one misdemeanor. In a May status conference, she turned down a plea bargain that could halve potential jail time.
The motion will be discussed in Fifth Judicial District Judge Mark Thompson’s court on Nov. 23. He said a three-day trial would be held after the first of the year.
Breckenridge police arrested Schmitt on Dec. 30, 2014 after a hit-and-run accident four days prior left 23-year-old Laura Hamilton seriously injured on the side of Airport Road. After a snowplow driver found her unconscious in a snow bank, first responders arrived at the scene late at night on Friday, Dec. 26.
Police identified Schmitt’s car days later, when debris from the scene of the accident matched a Toyota 4Runner limited edition V8. A detective noticed damage to the front end of her car, which corresponded to the make, model and year range of the debris.
“We think that the charges are well-taken in this case,” Fifth Judicial Disitrict Attorney Bruce Brown said. “We believe we have, at the very least, strong physical evidence that we can connect the vehicle to her. … Once we get into a trial in front of a jury of her peers, we’ll prevail.”
While Schmitt did not appear in court on Wednesday, Barson maintains that she is concerned with the case.
“Right now, my client wants to resolve this. She prays for Laura every day; she’s having a difficult time dealing with this,” he said.
“I think there have been some concerns with that area of the roadway,” he added, referring to Airport Road, where a fatal hit-and-run accident took the life of Breckenridge resident Christina Martinez Hernandez at the end of August this year.
Breckenridge police are still investigating the case after arresting a suspect last week. They said they would research traffic issues in the area in the future, with discussion in a Sept. 9 town council meeting about potentially looking at another speed study.
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