Arraignment of teen charged in accident delayed | AspenTimes.com
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Arraignment of teen charged in accident delayed

Naomi Havlen

The arraignment of an Aspen teenager charged with vehicular homicide was delayed Monday morning because the prosecution’s expert opinion in the case had not yet been filed.Dustin Hite was driving on Highway 82 a mile east of Aspen in June when he lost control of the vehicle and crashed. The accident killed Hite’s friend and passenger, Alex Terral. Both were 17 at the time of the crash.Hite appeared with his parents in juvenile court yesterday. His attorney, Katharine Sullivan, asked Judge James Boyd for a continuance since she has not yet received a plea bargain offer.Deputy District Attorney Gail Nichols agreed with the continuance. She said she was surprised that the expert’s evaluation of the crash was not yet done.In the case of car accidents, expert opinions are used to determine the most probable scenario that led to the crash. Factors can include roadway design, weather, the driver’s driving history and lighting conditions.Once the prosecution’s expert has reported on the probable cause, the defense will get a chance to have its own expert look into the incident. Nichols said given the severity of the charges, Hite should be given more time to consider any offer that may come from the district attorney’s office.Boyd agreed, setting Hite’s next appearance in court for Jan. 10. He reminded Hite’s parents that they are required to appear in court with their son.After a monthlong investigation, Capt. Barry Bratt of the Colorado State Patrol said Hite was exceeding the speed limit when the crash occurred.Vehicular homicide is determined to occur when “a person drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and such conduct is the proximate cause of the death of another person,” according to Colorado law. The charge is most often brought in drunken-driving cases, though state patrol reported alcohol was not a factor in this case.The felony charge carries a possible sentence of two to six years.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is nhavlen@aspentimes.com


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