Colleagues come out in defense of DA

Findings from independent reports conform to controversial decision

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Colleagues of 14th Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink came to her defense this week and said they agreed with her decision regarding a controversial criminal case.

That case: the prosecution of Morrison resident Dustin Lund. Lund is charged in Routt County Court with careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor.

Lund was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine during a February 2006 vehicle crash that killed Craig resident Michael Bailey. The case ignited a public outcry and spurred Bailey's sister, Kathy Oberwitte, also of Craig, to begin a recall process.

Joe DeAngelo, 14th Judicial District chief investigator, said findings from his December probe of the Lund-Bailey crash concluded that the misdemeanor charge was correct.

DeAngelo said "experienced" prosecutors in the district attorney's office and former 14th Judicial District Attorney Greg Long reached the same decision after independent reviews of the case.

"They did their own analysis, and we happened to end up at the same place," DeAngelo said.

He said tests of Lund's blood, a day planner and statements Lund allegedly made to the Colorado State Patrol would not be admissible in court.

The State Patrol, DeAngelo reported, did not have probable cause to test Lund's blood and did not gain his consent to submit to the test.

If the State Patrol had probable cause that Lund was impaired, they could have conducted the test without his consent, DeAngelo said.

However, he said none of the State Patrol reports revealed any sign that troopers believed Lund was under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

"There is no other commentary anywhere within the case file detailing any trooper observing (signs) of intoxication," DeAngelo wrote in a report to Roesink.

The State Patrol told Lund they were going to draw his blood for testing, DeAngelo said. Lund agreed, the report indicates, but his acquiescence was not "free and voluntarily offering of consent" as law requires, the chief investigator wrote.

DeAngelo's report also disagrees with the State Patrol's opinion that federal authority allows them to require blood draws without probable cause for anyone driving a commercial vehicle, as Lund was.

Long, now a chief deputy in the Denver district attorney's office, also spoke out this week and defended Roesink's decision.

Long, who served three terms as the 14th Judicial District attorney, from 1980 to 1992, said the State Patrol fouled the case by mishandling evidence at the scene.

Roesink, Long said, had no choice -- legally and ethically -- but to make the decision she did against Lund.

"I'm sorry to see it come to this," Long said. "But by the time the district attorney's office got into the action, the ball game was over. It was impossible to undue things that didn't get done right at the scene."

Long, who publishes a search and seizure manual for all district attorneys in the state, wrote a letter to Roesink spelling out his thoughts on the case.

"I could not see a legal or ethical way for you to file the case, nor could your most experienced trial person," Long wrote. "You could have done the craven and popular thing and filed the charge anyway. ... This would have been an abdication of your oath of office, a disservice to the taxpayers whom you swore to serve and a black mark on the system of criminal justice.

"That you chose to do the unpopular thing, particularly aggravating since different investigative action earlier on might have given you different options, showed courage and integrity."

He later wrote, "You may now be taking blame for mistakes which other people lack the courage to admit."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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