Man likely to plead guilty in vehicular homicide case
Steamboat Springs — A 19-year-old Denver man is expected to plead guilty this morning to charges stemming from an accident that killed his best friend last summer.
Mario James Lintz is expected to enter his plea at 10:30 a.m. in 14th Judicial District Judge Joel S. Thompson’s courtroom. Lintz’s attorney, Kristopher Hammond, said his client has reached a plea agreement with Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James.
On Thursday, Hammond declined to reveal the details of the plea agreement but said the package includes a felony.
St. James has formally charged Lintz with vehicular homicide and vehicular assault, which are felonies. Lintz also faces misdemeanor charges of third-degree assault and driving with a suspended license.
These charges were filed because of the accident that occurred in the early morning hours of July 1 on County Road 62 in North Routt County.
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According to court records, an allegedly intoxicated Lintz lost control of a 1995 Toyota Celica at about 2:30 a.m. The car went off the side of the road and flipped onto its roof, court records show. Nineteen-year-old passenger John Campbell of Denver was ejected from the sports car on the county road just off C.R. 29. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Lintz and the vehicle’s owner, Leslie Gibson, 19, of Steamboat Springs were injured and taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center.
A fourth person in the car, 19-year-old Zachary Wurtzebach of Denver, escaped with minor scrapes and bruises.
The group had gone to the Steamboat Lake marina and were traveling back to their campsite when the accident happened, records show.
St. James is prosecuting Lintz against the wishes of Campbell’s parents.
After the accident, Bruce Campbell wrote the court a letter requesting his son’s lifelong friend be released and not prosecuted.
According to Campbell’s letter dated July 2, 2001, Lintz was his son’s “closest friend,” and his family has been friends with Lintz’s parents since the boys were babies.
In the letter, Campbell described Lintz as a “decent, hardworking, bright young man.”
Because of the letter, Routt County Judge James Garrecht in July lowered Lintz’s bond from $20,000 to $5,000.
Lintz was arrested when he was released from the hospital a day after the accident.
Lintz faces the third-degree assault charge because he allegedly kicked a nurse in the stomach as she drew blood from the man’s arm, records show.
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