Judge Makes Big Decision In High Profile “Negligent Homicide” Case Against Trucker
Castle Rock, Colorado – The truck driver who prosecutors say acted negligently leading to the death of Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue in November of 2016 is no longer facing a felony charge.
After two mistrials in the last 6 months because of failure by the prosecution to disclose critical information to the defense, District Court Judge Shay Whitaker has tossed the most serious of the charges against Noe Gamez-Ruiz.
In a court proceeding last week, Judge Whitaker described “a pattern of discovery violations” on the part of prosecutors and said it led to the dismissal of the charge of criminally negligent homicide against Gamez-Ruiz.
The truck driver now faces only two misdemeanor charges of careless driving stemming from the crash. If convicted, the maximum sentence for each charge is a fine and up to 1 year behind bars.
Gámez-Ruiz admits that the semi he was driving northbound on Interstate 25 near Castle Rock in November 2016 did strike and kill Donahue as he was working a traffic accident, but he says it was an accident. “It’s a terrible, tragic accident, but it’s that and nothing more,” Gamez-Ruiz’s defense argued.
The prosecution has argued Gamez-Ruiz should have known better. Gamez-Ruiz has been a professional driver for 20 years and his experience, the prosecution argued, proves his guilt of negligence.
In the previous two mistrials the jury was shown video of the incident that was recorded in Gamez-Ruiz’s truck as well as Donahue’s dash camera. Gamez-Ruiz was seen to be cooperating with authorities and was found to have not been impaired at the time of the accident on that sunny day.
The latest developments are a devastating blow to the family of Trooper Donahue who wanted to see Gamez-Ruiz punished to the fullest extent of the law. After the second mistrial, Donahue’s widow, Velma, released a statement saying, “We are angry and hurt that the justice system is failing to provide justice for Cody.”
Further, she wrote, “The men and women in law enforcement deserve protection, support and knowledge that the laws in place are there to protect them while they protect us. Please remember to move over for Cody.”
Donahue’s death sparked legislative action in Colorado as Governor John Hickenlooper signed the “Move Over for Cody Act” into law in 2017. The law requires drivers to move over when they see a law enforcement officer, highway worker or tow-truck driver along the side of the road.
For more of Transportation Nation Network’s previous coverage of this case click HERE.