Details emerge in New Year’s vehicular homicide charge
A Fort Collins woman accused of vehicular homicide repeatedly called herself a murderer after hearing what she was charged with, according to court testimony Tuesday.Stormy Lindblom, 25, broke down in tears after she learned that Josanna Reece – whom she had met by chance just before the New Year’s Day 2005 accident – had died, said Colorado State Patrol trooper Eduardo Gomez.Gomez testified during a hearing in which the suspect’s attorney, Chip McCrory, tried to get crucial evidence and statements suppressed ahead of the trial scheduled late next month. McCrory and deputy district attorney Gail Nichols argued over Gomez’s statements and actions that night and whether the results of a breath test should be admitted into evidence.Judge James Boyd said he would consider the arguments and issue a decision by March 1.During the hearing, Nichols called Gomez to the stand and questioned him on his background and experience in DUI investigations. Lindblom, who was caring for her newborn child before the hearing, is also charged with DUI and careless driving causing death. If convicted, she faces between four and 12 years in prison.Gomez, a 10-year trooper, said he has arrested about 350 people for DUI and conducted 750 to 800 sobriety tests. He also recalled the night of the accident.It happened around 2 a.m. at milepost 61 on Highway 133. The road was icy at the time, and Gomez said he was limiting his speed to 35 mph. Numerous emergency vehicles were on the scene when he arrived. Lindblom’s Toyota SUV had slid off the left-hand side of the road and down a “pretty steep” embankment. It rolled once, struck a tree and came to rest on its left side.Reece, a 22-year-old resident of Redstone, was killed instantly.Lindblom was inside a nearby house when Gomez first questioned her about what happened, he said. She “wasn’t hysterical” but was crying. She told him she had hit a patch of ice and lost control of the vehicle.Lindblom said she had had three beers, according to Gomez’s testimony, and that her last drink had been around 11:30 p.m. He asked her to perform roadside sobriety tests, and she agreed, “to prove she was not drunk,” he said.The trooper told Boyd that the suspect had bloodshot eyes, slow and slurred speech, and alcohol on her breath. McCrory later noted that his client had been crying ever since the accident, which could have led to the appearance of the eyes.Gomez said an EMT took him aside by and told him Reece was dead. Gomez went back into the home and resumed the sobriety tests.He noticed that Lindblom was “staggering and unsteady” as she walked into the room for the tests and did not pass the tests. She “was at least impaired,” he said.McCrory and Nichols also argued about the accuracy of a breath analysis, which showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.15, over the state limit of 0.08. McCrory said the device’s calibration was not current and it was exposed to extreme heat and cold during storage. Nichols said the breath-test model is approved for use in the state and it was working properly at the time.After the roadside tests and breath test, Lindblom was told that she was under arrest for the three charges. Upon learning that Reece had died, Lindblom began crying and was sick to her stomach, Gomez said.”Ms. Lindblom felt she was going to throw up,” he said.While speaking to the vehicle’s third passenger, who, like Lindblom was unhurt, Gomez testified that he heard the suspect describe herself as “a murderer.” Nichols said Lindblom made that statement repeatedly.She was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital for blood draws, which Gomez said are mandatory when circumstances such as alleged vehicular homicide involving alcohol are suspected. She never protested the blood work, he said.In a later statement, Lindblom told Gomez she had been in the valley for a week visiting a friend. They had gone out to a restaurant on New Year’s Eve and then to a bar. She said she had three beers and a mixed drink. She met Reece and Reece’s husband at the bar “by chance,” and the couple offered her a bed for the night.They left around 12:30 a.m., headed toward the Reeces’ home. The victim’s husband was about a mile in front of Lindblom and Reece, who was riding with the suspect to provide directions, Gomez said.She told the trooper that she had been traveling about 40 mph at the time of the accident.During the blood draws at the hospital, Gomez told her to fill out a statement. Under questioning from McCrory, he said doing so is standard procedure. But he admitted that he told her to write it and that he did not tell her that it is voluntary to make such a statement.The defense attorney tried to portray Gomez’s actions as coercion and said he was interrogating her under duress. He asked Boyd to toss out the statements and evidence related to Gomez’s actions.Nichols, for her part, admitted into evidence pictures of the vehicle after the wreck. The State Patrol seized the vehicle, and the attorneys argued over whether such a seizure is legal. They also disagreed on standardized sobriety tests and law-enforcement training.Under McCrory’s questioning, Gomez admitted that he could not specify which words the suspect slurred and couldn’t pinpoint exactly when she allegedly failed two particular roadside tests.There is no indication that coercion or duress impacted Lindblom’s statements, Nichols said.The suspect’s blood alcohol was “well over the legal limit,” she said.Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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