Robbins cleared of manslaughter charges from 2005 accident
Steamboat Springs — 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.”
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Work to form a new strategic plan for the Steamboat Springs School District will start next week with the first sessions of a listening tour aimed at getting broad community feedback.