Cyclist’s attorney questions plea deal
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Harold Haddon, the Denver attorney representing the victim of an Edwards hit-and-run accident last July, doesn’t understand why District Attorney Mark Hurlbert has made a lenient plea bargain offer in such a serious case.
Haddon represents Dr. Steven Milo, a 34-year-old New York anesthesiologist who was hit while cycling along Highway 6 in Edwards July 3 and suffered serious injuries from the accident.
Hurlbert and Deputy District Attorney Mark Brostrom offered Martin Erzinger, the prominent financial advisor charged in the case, two misdemeanor charges rather than the felony charge of leaving the scene of an accident.
Police reports state that Erzinger hit Milo while traveling eastbound on Highway 6 in Edwards and then left the scene of the accident, drove to Avon where he was found by police placing damaged parts from his 2010 Mercedes into his trunk.
In a letter Hurlbert wrote to the Vail Daily earlier this week, Hurlbert said Milo never asked him to plead Erzinger to a felony, but rather a felony deferred judgment.
Hurlbert justified the plea bargain because he said the two misdemeanor charges would remain on Erzinger’s record, and Erzinger will also face potential jail time and have to pay restitution. He has said Erzinger’s job factored into the thinking behind the deal because he wouldn’t want Erzinger to lose his ability to pay such restitution should he lose his job over the felony charge.
Court records show Milo said he would be open to a felony deferred judgment, meaning the case would drop off Erzinger’s record in two to four years, and would be willing to discuss such a scenario with the District Attorney’s Office, but Milo did not specifically request a deferred judgment sentence.
In an Aug. 20 telephone call with Brostrom, Milo “unequivocally stated” that he objected to any arrangement with Erzinger which allows him to avoid the filing of the felony charge described in the arresting officer’s affidavit, according to a letter Haddon wrote to Brostrom on Sept. 13.
“As you know, throughout this process I have never made any requests that your office obtain financial consideration from Mr. Erzinger. From the beginning, my goal has been to ensure that Mr. Erzinger is held accountable for the egregious nature of his conduct and its continuing effects on my family and me,” Milo wrote in a letter to both Hurlbert and Brostrom on Oct. 21.
Haddon said he doesn’t know what led to the plea bargain offer. Both Erzinger and Milo have “plenty of insurance,” Haddon said, which is another reason why money is not the issue in this case.
“In a case like this, where there is a lot of insurance and the victim is not asking for money, I don’t understand (the plea bargain),” Haddon said. “It’s a matter of judging the seriousness of the offense and taking responsibility for it.”
Haddon said Erzinger has a very good attorney, who happens to be a former friend of Haddon’s, who was able to negotiate with the District Attorney’s Office very early on without Milo’s knowledge or participation.
Hurlbert, who said he received over 1,000 e-mails related to the case last week, said he could not rescind his plea bargain offer because Erzinger’s attorney, Richard Tegtmeier, had already accepted it.
Haddon said there are cases in Colorado setting precedent that a district attorney can and has changed his or her mind on plea bargain deals, and that the judge has the ultimate discretion.
“I will be filing a brief on that,” Haddon said.
In the meantime, Milo is still trying to recover from injuries to his spinal cord, brain, knee and scapula, Haddon said. Haddon said Milo has tried to go back to work but has suffered some setbacks because of the injuries, including spinal headaches that can be disabling.
He will require surgery in the future, Haddon said, and has been up and down.
“He’s a resolute, optimistic guy and wants to get back to his career,” Haddon said.
Another hearing should be scheduled in District Court sometime in December, Haddon said.
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or email@example.com.
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