Another delay in fatal Highway 133 case
The Aspen Times
The case against a Basalt woman who struck a car head-on on Highway 133 in August, killing 21-year-old Meleyna Kistner, was delayed yet again in county court Tuesday.
Defense attorney Dan Shipp requested the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office to provide detailed restitution amounts that defendant Christine Tinner might be required to pay. His motion caused another continuance in the nearly 5-month-old case.
Tinner, 47, was driving nearly 65 mph in a 50-mph zone at the time of the accident, according to charges against her, which include careless driving resulting in death, careless driving resulting in injury, failure to drive in a single lane and speeding. Tinner also was in illegal possession of a Schedule 4 drug, Lorazepam, according to the District Attorney’s Office. The drug is used to treat anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Kistner had been in the valley with her boyfriend and had visited the Maroon Bells before driving south on Highway 133 on the evening of Aug. 23. The accident happened near mile marker 55, where Tinner’s Honda hatchback reportedly crossed the center line near a curve and slammed into the Chevrolet Cavalier in which Kistner was driving.
In a motion to compel discovery, Shipp accuses the District Attorney’s Office of making incomplete plea offers that could have potentially been accepted “had those offers included certain items of discovery that the people have refused to provide,” the motion states.
“Those plea offers require that the defendant pay restitution amounts to the alleged victims that are to be determined at a later date,” Shipp wrote. “This amounts to the people offering a plea that requires defendant to enter a guilty plea without having any idea what restitutions would be written into the judgment later.”
Prosecutor Andrea Bryan told Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely she was prepared to address the motion in court Tuesday in an effort to avoid another continuance. She was prepared to provide research in support of denying the defense’s motion, she said.
But with a full courtroom for the numerous other cases on the docket, Fernandez-Ely decided to set a hearing for the motion Feb. 3. Bryan had hoped Tuesday’s hearing would result in a trial date being set.
“The people do object to a continuance on the case. This is a Victims Rights Act case — the victims have a right to a speedy resolution,” Bryan said. “There are no (plea) offers currently on the table and I don’t see anything changing at this point, so I do think a record needs to be made in the interest of the victims’ rights in this case.”
Attorneys will make arguments for and against the defense motion at next month’s hearing in which the court also is expected to set a trial date.
Previous reporting by Andre Salvail was included in this story. email@example.com
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”