Wrong-way driver declared incompetent

Staff report

A Thornton man who drove the wrong way down Highway 82 in March and nearly hit other drivers and pedestrians was declared incompetent to stand trial Monday.

John Reno, 46, must be restored to competency at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo before he can stand trial on four counts of menacing and one count of vehicular eluding, District Judge Chris Seldin said.

Psychiatrists at CMHIP found Reno to be incompetent after an examination at the facility. Their report indicates the facility will prioritize Reno’s restoration to competency, Seldin said.

Reno was arrested March 14 after twice driving downvalley in the upvalley lanes of Highway 82 at speeds as fast as 80 mph and narrowly missing other drivers, including a sheriff’s deputy, and a pedestrian crossing near Buttermilk. He later entered the District Courtroom with his eyes closed and had to be led to a chair before making strange and nonsensical statements in court.

Reno pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in May, triggering his examination by state psychiatrists in Pueblo.

Ashley Andrews, his public defender, said Monday she had “serious concerns” about the Pitkin County Jail’s ability to house Reno.

“He seems to only be deteriorating in jail,” Andrews said. “He has significant cognitive issues.”


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