Dillon Burch sentenced to 90 days in Moffat County Jail
Editor’s note: this story has been updated to correct two errors previously reported, including the counts to which the defendant pleaded and his blood alcohol level at the time of his arrest.
Dillon Burch, the Craig man who pled guilty to two charges involving the death in a car crash of a 15-year-old girl last December, was sentenced Thursday in Moffat County District Court to 90 days in Moffat County Jail.
Burch was also sentenced to 5 years of supervised probation and a handful of other conditions. A 60-day jail sentence will be served concurrent to the 90-day sentence.
Burch pled guilty in late August in district court to Vehicular Homicide-Reckless Driving, a class four felony; and amended Third Degree Assault, a class one misdemeanor.
The Dec. 13, 2020, incident occurred around 2 a.m. when the vehicle Burch, then 20 years old, was driving on Moffat County Road 31 rolled with Burch and three passengers inside. The other two, a 16-year-old and 20-year-old, testified previously that Burch swerved to avoid something on the road, and in so doing rolled the car, killing the 15-year-old in the crash.
The prosecution asked for a harsher sentence than probation, a sentence the court had the flexibility to deliver, requesting Burch be sentenced to 24 months in Moffat County Jail on top of the 5 years supervised probation and various other requirements including treatment and Mothers Against Drunk Driving appearances.
Burch’s defense attorney, Erin Wilson, begged the court for grace and leniency, making an effort to prove through evidence and supporting statements of friends and family that Burch was a high-character individual who had made a single terrible decision, and that he was remorseful.
“Some people don’t think grace belongs in a courtroom,” Wilson said Thursday in court. “I believe grace should be the overarching sentiment and idea in everything we do, but especially in a courtroom.”
The family of the victim was present, and a statement from the victim’s father was read by the prosecution.
“Every life (the victim) touched, she loved,” the statement read. “By me and the family, this will always be a hard thing for us to deal with. I hope when (Burch) gets a family, that he never has to go through this. A parent should never have to bury their kid.”
The family had worked with the prosecution to craft its request for sentencing, speaking of a desire that Burch rehabilitate from this criminal act, but also hoping for a level of consequences to be applied.
Burch himself spoke of his enormous remorse. Burch pled guilty to two counts and stated his willingness to accept the consequences of his actions.
“I used sincerely bad judgment,” he said. “I know I did. I lost my friend. It’s my fault she’s not here.”
Burch’s blood alcohol level was reported at .118 the night of the crash. He said he had also tasted some cocaine that night, though prosecution pointed out the that while the drug was present in his bloodstream, it did not appear to be impacting his judgment.
“I know I failed them,” Burch said. “I never should have given them beer. I never should have tasted the cocaine. But the worst decision I made was to get behind the wheel of my truck and drive. As a result of my poor judgment and decision-making, my friend lost her life.”
Burch has attended alcohol education classes and therapy since the incident.
In handing down her sentencing judgment, Judge Sandra Gardner spoke at length about the challenge of the decision, as well as her hope for a brighter future for all involved.
“This is very difficult,” Gardner said. “Nothing we can do can bring (the victim) back. She’s gone.
“If I can give one message of hope to everyone, that is that the word for today is that you can all make it. No matter what you are facing, what circumstances seem daunting, what darkness may seem inevitable, what journey right now seems unbearable, you will make it.”
Burch, per COVID-19 policies at the jail, will report to custody in two weeks.
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