Laura McDermott hit and run: Police report says Dennis Esquibel admitted driving in fatal crash
Last week, we reported about the arrest of Dennis Esquibel in the tragic hit and run that killed Laura McDermott. Shortly thereafter, Esquibel's mother claimed he wasn't actually driving at the time of the collision, while the police insisted otherwise. A copy of Esquibel's probable cause statement obtained after he was formally charged explains the cops' view. As seen in the document on seen below, he allegedly admitted he'd been behind the wheel.
The police report provides a few more details about the accident, which we detail in earlier coverage also included here. At one minute shy of 1 a.m. on September 23, Denver Police officers responded to the intersection of South Broadway and West Cedar Avenue. According to witnesses, McDermott had been crossing Broadway near the northern crosswalk when she was struck by a southbound vehicle traveling at an undetermined rate of speed -- although subsequent estimates suggest it may have been zooming at sixty miles per hour-plus. McDermott was transported by ambulance to a nearby hospital, but she was pronounced dead just fifteen minutes later.
Folks on the scene described the car that took McDermott's life and then fled the scene as an older model sedan, likely a Toyota -- and parts recovered at the scene confirmed this supposition. The information was shared with the media as the investigation ramped up -- and before long, a Toyota with significant windshield damage was spotted in the area of 1300 South Jason Street.
The Toyota thought to have been used in the accident shortly after its discovery.
Three days later, an investigator quizzed Margaret Esquibel, the registered owner of the car, and she's said to have revealed her son, Dennis, and her girlfriends had been occupants of the vehicle on the fateful evening.
Dennis was tracked down to an address on the 4100 block of St. Paul Street and taken to the traffic investigation unit, the statement continues. No time is listed for this conversation, but according to the document, he was advised of his rights just after midnight on September 27 -- after which he allegedly admitted that he'd been the driver and his girlfriend was a passenger, contradicting a claim Margaret later made to 9News. The report also says Dennis told investigators he'd hidden the car and left the area on foot.
Esquibel has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death and vehicular homicide-reckless -- felonies that carry a presumptive range of up to twelve years in prison, with the jolt potentially doubled if there are determined to have been aggravating circumstances. The bond: $100,000. He was scheduled to be in court today to be formally informed of the accusations against him.
Here's the probable cause statement.
Continue for our previous coverage, including photos and videos. Update 5:49 a.m. September 28: An arrest has been made in the horrific hit and run that killed Laura McDermott over the weekend: Dennis Esquibel, 25, has been charged with the crime.
But it's not that simple. He was reportedly joined in the car that caused the fatal crash by two other people -- and his mother, who owns the vehicle, insists that one of them was behind the wheel.
As we reported in previous coverage on view below, McDermott was crossing Broadway near Cedar at about 1 a.m. on Sunday morning when she was struck by what police now say was a 1991 Toyota Corolla. Surveillance footage didn't record the actual collision, but a flash of the car zooming past just before impact suggests to investigators that it was traveling in the sixty-miles-per-hour or above range.
McDermott's body is estimated to have been thrown 200 feet. Witnesses say that not only did the car that hit her fail to stop, but it didn't even slow down.
The high-profile case prompted a sweeping search for the vehicle. Then, earlier this week, workers in the area of Jason Street and Louisiana Avenue noticed a suspicious car with windshield damage parked next to some railroad tracks. Police soon concluded that it was the Toyota that struck and killed McDermott.
The ownership of the Corolla was traced to Marilyn Esquibel, but she was never a suspect. Rather, attention soon focused on her son, Dennis -- a man with a lengthy criminal record. Most notable, reports the Denver Post, was a 2007 guilty plea for car theft and felony drug possession that resulted in a three-year prison sentence.
Dennis was soon arrested, but mixed reports subsequently surfaced. A Fox31 package claims that Marilyn told police her son was piloting the Corolla, while 9News has her on camera insisting that one of the others with him -- his girlfriend, who she identifies by the name Irene -- was actually in the driver's seat when the deadly crash occurred.
The Denver District Attorney's Office isn't buying that. At a press conference yesterday, DA Mitch Morrissey said charges will be filed against Dennis next week. When that happens, McDermott's heartbroken family, including her beloved father Gerry, are unlikely to feel anything approaching closure. But at least they'll no longer be haunted by the idea that a person intimately connected to the death of this vibrant young woman is still on the loose.
Look below to see video packages from Fox31 and 9News, a booking photo of Dennis Esquibel, and our previous coverage.
Big photos below.
Update, 4:25 a.m. September 27: The Denver Police Department has just announced that a vehicle believed to have been involved in the fatal hit and run that took the life of Laura McDermott over the weekend has been found.
No suspects have been named at this writing, but the DPD is newly confident that the individuals involved will also be located.
At about 9:30 a.m., according to DPD spokeswoman Raquel Lopez, workers in the area of Jason Street and Louisiana Avenue noticed a suspicious vehicle parked next to some railroad tracks. The car is said to have matched the description of the one that struck and killed McDermott as she tried to cross Broadway early Sunday morning: It was previously ID'd as a silver or gray 1987-1989 Toyota Corolla.
The workers quickly phoned police, and investigators who examined the vehicle think it's the one from the hit and run.
The driver remains at large, but the release sent under Lopez's name notes that the traffic experts feel they'll be able to help detectives "narrow the scope of the investigation" -- presumably by tracing the car's ownership and/or analyzing it for fingerprints and the like.
Here's a Fox31 clip that includes a photo of the car discovered yesterday.
Look below to see our previous coverage.
Update, 8:56 a.m. September 26: Denver police have released a tiny snippet of surveillance footage showing the car that struck and killed Laura McDermott in a weekend hit and run on Broadway.
In addition, we're getting more information about the brutality of the crash, as well as the approximate speed of the suspect vehicle.
Here's a look at a car similar to the one that killed McDermott as she was crossing Broadway with her boyfriend at around 1 a.m. early Sunday morning -- a 1987 to 1989 Toyota Corolla, silver or gray in color:
Obviously, the actual car will have a great deal of front-end damage.
A 9News report features the DPD-released footage, which shows a quick flash of the car driving past, as well as an estimate that it was traveling in the range of 65 miles per hour at the time it struck McDermott, hurling her around 200 feet.
More evidence of the gruesome results comes from Westword contributor Caleb Hannan, who wrote our May feature on former Colorado Rockies pitcher Jamie Moyer. He lives near the scene and was walking with his wife the next day when they came upon camera crews and police gathered at the fatal intersection of Broadway and Cedar. There, Hannan reveals via e-mail, a TV reporter told him a fifteen-by-fifteen patch of asphalt where McDermott's body came to rest had to be hosed down because there was so much blood.
Also on the scene was a police Doberman trained to find body parts, and Hannan noticed it nosing around a trash can. Then, the next day, he walked past the same area as maintenance truck stopped by the same trash can and a worker made a shocking discovery. He told Hannan the receptacle was at least partly filled with blood.
Here's a look at the 9News report featuring the surveillance footage.
The image could not present a stronger contrast with her death in a hit-and-run incident early Sunday morning -- one for which no suspects have been arrested or named thus far.
At approximately 1 a.m. on Sunday, September 23, according to the Denver Police Department, a woman subsequently identified as McDermott, 32, was walking across South Broadway at East Cedar Avenue with her boyfriend when she was struck by a vehicle traveling southbound.
The scene of the crime.
No, the car -- beige or gray four-door sedan, possibly a Toyota, with a missing front passenger-side turn signal and damage to that part of the vehicle due to the collision -- didn't stop. Indeed, friends of McDermott told CBS4 that it didn't even slow down.
McDermott, an esthetician whose boyfriend is said to have been on the cusp of asking her to marry him, was immediately transported to Denver Health, where she was pronounced dead.
Folks with any information about this crime are encouraged to phone Crime Stoppers at 720-913-STOP (7867) or text to 274637 (CRIMES) under the title DMCS. A reward of up to $2,000 is being offered.
Look below to see a larger version of McDermott's Facebook profile pic and the CBS4 report.
More from our Colorado Crimes archive: "Jenna Breen's mom frustrated by delayed justice in hit and run that killed her daughter."
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Denver, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.