In a month filled with very strange crimes, Lisa Norton's alleged hit-and-swim accident, which killed Gabriel Nielsen and badly injured his sister and daughter, still managed to stand out. And as an indication of the incident's shocking nature, she's been accused of first-degree murder in addition to the more common count of vehicular homicide.
The most serious allegation is officially "first-degree murder showing extreme indifference," and the information released about the crime thus far certainly shows why prosecutors would move in this direction.
As we've noted, Norton was arrested for driving under the influence in March after reportedly being pulled over near North Foothills Parkway and Longhorn Road for weaving, then taking off as a deputy approached her car, precipitating a brief chase. She was eventually sentenced to twelve months probation on the DUI count after accusations of illegal lane changes, eluding a police officer and resisting arrest were dropped in exchange for her guilty plea. This offer was made despite Norton having a previous DUI conviction on her record, dating back to 2006.
Two days later, Norton was driving a Ford Ranger pickup, despite the revocation of her license, and she was apparently doing so very badly. She's said to have gotten into a non-injury accident and then left the scene shortly before crossing the center line on Nelson Road and crashing into a Nissan that was transporting Nielsen, 33, his sister Cherish Francis, 24, and his daughter Avery, age two.
Nielsen died at the scene, while Francis suffered a broken arm and ribs and young Avery wound up with multiple skull fractures that left her in critical condition. But Norton walked away and headed straight to the edge of an adjacent reservoir, where she tried to swim to freedom. Instead, she was pulled from the water by boaters, who handed her over to Longmont cops pretty sure she was under the influence of alcohol again.
The original bond placed on Norton was $1 million, but in first-degree murder cases, no release is possible. She'll be waiting behind bars until the trial to determine if she'll spend the rest of her life in prison for taking Nielsen's. Look below to see her latest booking photo.
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More from our Mile High Murder archive: "Ronald Muniz arrested in fatal stabbing of Annette Taylor at 1955 Arapahoe (7)."