Judge accepts plea deal in Colorado hit & run,
sentences man who hit cyclist

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A Colorado judge accepted a controversial plea bargain on Thursday in the case of wealthy financial planner Martin Erzinger who hit a cyclist from behind back in July and didn't stop.

County District Judge Frederick Gannett sentenced Erzinger to a suspended jail term and one-year probation. The Denver man pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of careless driving resulting in injury and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury.

The July 3 hit-and-run case drew widespread attention, especially among bicyclists, after the district attorney's office dropped a felony charge against Erzinger as part of the plea deal.

The Vail Daily reported that Erzinger has the option of “either completing 60 days of work release in county jail or doing 45 straight days of charitable work which would require he take a leave of absence from work.”

Felony result

District Attorney Mark Hurlbert explained in November that a guilty verdict for a felony could possibly result in Erzinger losing his job as a financial planner with $1 billion in assets for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, making it difficult for Erzinger to pay restitution to the victim.

Hurlbert later explained that because Erzinger had a clean record otherwise, the felony conviction could eventually be removed from his record. The misdemeanors will stick.

Crash victim testifies

That victim, Stephen Milo of New York, showed up in the Colorado courtroom on Thursday with his attorney, Harold Haddon. They continued their pressure for reinstatement of the felony charge.

Milo, an anesthesiologist, says he hasn't fully recovered from the crash in which he suffered damage to his spine, bleeding from the brain, a herniated disc and knee and shoulder damage. He's quoted at theVail Daily:

“I think this ship is totally off course at this point, and I think you're the only one who can right the ship, and I'm pretty confident that you will.”

New car smell

The noteriety of the case was compounded this week when Erzinger's lawyer filed papers that his client suffered from sleep apnea and had fallen asleep just before he hit Milo but woke up down the road. Although Erzinger said he didn't know that he had hit anyone, he had parked his car behind a closed Pizza Hut about 3 miles away and was putting his damaged bumper and outside mirror in the car when police arrived.

A crash reconstructionist suggested that the “new car smell” of his 2010 Mercedes may have contributed to Erzinger drifting off in his sleep-deprived state. In court, Milo called this a “fairy tale,” according to the Vail Daily.

Others stopped at the scene to assist Milo.

Judge rules

Judge Gannett said that although he may not have made the same decisions as the District Attorney's office in this case, he didn't feel comfortable “second-guessing” those conclusions.

Before sentencing, Erzinger told Milo's family in court:

“I am so sorry this happened. I pray for your strength and your healing every day. … I feel a great sense of remorse.”

Both he and his wife said they had received death threats and emails “full of ill will.”

Permanent link to this article: https://www.bikingbis.com/2010/12/17/judge-accepts-plea-deal-in-colorado-hit-run-sentences-man-who-hit-cyclist/

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