District attorney ready to speak out

Fighting for her political future, 14th Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink said Sunday she intends to make herself available to the public and defend her prosecutorial record.

"I'm here now, I'm talking," said Roesink, who's the focus of Craig resident Kathy Oberwitte's recall petition. "I'm going to try and let people know I do want my job, I do want to finish my term. ... I am proud of my record. I think I've done a very good job.

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"(Voters) are welcome to call with questions. I invite them to call me or come and see me at any time."

Roesink addressed an array of topics Sunday concerning her tenure as district attorney and what she hopes to accomplish with continued service.

She listed a 40 percent reduction in Moffat County felonies from 2005 to 2006, continued progress toward a drug court and a tough, yet even-handed, approach to prosecuting cases as highlights thus far.

Oberwitte and circulators in Moffat, Routt and Grand counties allege Roesink has lead an office that lacks consistent prosecution and has been soft on crime.

Roesink countered the criticisms.

She said the felony reduction -- 317 felonies, 131 drug cases in 2005 against 188 felonies and 71 drug cases in 2006 in Moffat County -- is evidence that her office's prosecutions have helped reduce part of the area's drug problem.

"Bottom line, the meth has gone down," she said.

Her office, Roesink said, also was one of 40 in the country to receive grant money to attend drug court training last year. Roesink wrote the grant application.

The drug court, she said, will be instrumental in deterring methamphetamine use and distribution. Roesink hopes to launch the drug court in Moffat County and then expand it to Routt and Grand counties.

As for being soft on charging criminals, Roesink said she has learned to understand the difference between people selling drugs for profit and people selling drugs so they can continue using. She makes no bones about seeking strict punishment for the former.

The recall petition was triggered by the Dustin Lund-Michael Bailey fatality crash in February 2006. Lund was allegedly under the influence of methamphetamine when his vehicle collided with Bailey's.

However, a blood test confirming Lund's drug use was negated by improper procedure, making the test results inadmissible. Lt. Col. Dale King, regional commander of the Western Slope, said troopers had neither probable cause nor consent to withdraw blood from the suspect.

After reviewing the case, Roesink charged Lund with misdemeanor careless driving resulting in death, a charge she said was the lone avenue available given the botched handling of the Lund drug test.

The Morrison resident has pleaded guilty to the charge and faces a maximum sentence of one year in county jail and $1,000 fine.

Col. Mark Trostel, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, came to Roesink's defense last week in a letter he sent to the district attorney. In the letter (see full text, Opinion page), Trostel wrote that he agreed with how Roesink prosecuted Lund.

"Based upon your information and the opinions of other legal authorities not involved in this case, I agree that the blood draw revealing the presence of methamphetamine would not stand a legal challenge for admissibility before the court and a jury," he wrote. "Therefore I concur with, and fully support, your decision regarding the charges filed in the prosecution of Dustin Lund."

He also indicated that Roesink has the State Patrol's "unconditional support," and that his office looks "forward to working with (Roesink) in the years to come as the District Attorney of the 14th Judicial District."

Trostel could not be reached for comment Monday.

King said Trostel's letter should be viewed as nothing less than a "letter of support" for Roesink.

Story at a glance:

  • 14th Judicial District Attorney Bonnie Roesink vows to counter criticisms, speak to voters "anyway I can talk to them about my record."
  • Recall petition faces April 9 deadline for submission of 3,802 registered voter signatures.
  • Petition triggered by controversial Lund-Bailey fatality crash in February 2006 east of Hayden.
  • Colorado State Patrol chief pledges "unconditional support" for district attorney's office.
  • Roesink highlights meth prosecutions, drug court progress and crime reduction as credits to her office's record.


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

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