Update: Earlier this fall, as we've reported (see our previous coverage below), Christopher Gebers was found guilty for his role in a 2015 crash that caused the death of Colorado State Patrol Cadet Taylor Thyfault, 21, and the serious injury of Trooper Clinton Rushing, 37.
Now, Gebers has been handed a stunning sentence: life plus 342 years.
By far the most serious charge against Gebers was first-degree murder — an offense prosecutors pressed because they said the collision took place while Gebers was transporting meth for presumed sale in a criminal drug deal. As noted by the Longmont Times-Call, Boulder County Assistant District Attorney Ryan Brackley also castigated Gebers for illegal modifications he made to his car (including the installation of blue headlights), his decision to engage in a police chase at speeds surpassing 100 miles per hour and comments he made in a phone conversation following his arrest in which he seemed to blame Thyfault and Rushing for what happened.
"Bro, they're trying to rail me over something that was mostly their fault," he was quoted as saying.
During the sentencing hearing, Gebers apologized to Thyfault's family for his actions, reportedly saying, "There's nothing I can say that's going to bring back Taylor. There's nothing I can say that's going to make any of this go away or change it or anything. All I can say is I'm sorry. I know it doesn't mean anything to you guys.... If I could take it back, I would."
And then the hammer came down. Continue for our earlier post.
Update 7:37 a.m. October 3: In May 2015, Colorado State Patrol Cadet and Army veteran Taylor Thyfault, 21, was killed and Trooper Clinton Rushing, 37, was seriously injured near Longmont after a car driven by then-27-year-old Christopher Gebers struck them while traveling at speeds well above the posted limit; our previous coverage has been incorporated in this report.
Prosecutors subsequently charged Gebers with sixteen criminal counts. Included among them was first-degree murder, an accusation reportedly based on the supposition that Gebers had fled a traffic stop and was en route to a drug deal when the crash occurred.
Going for a murder conviction under such circumstances may have seemed like an overreach, but that's not the way it turned out. In recent days, a jury has endorsed that count and the vast majority of others.
According to the CSP, Thyfault....
...were riding together on Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Weld County as part of the former's training as a trooper.
Among their assignments was an attempt to stop a 2002 Honda Civic driven by a man later identified as Gebers.
At the time of the impact, Rushing and Thyfault were putting out stop sticks.
Both were outside their vehicle at the moment of impact.
The Honda failed to yield, the CSP noted, and careened "into the scene of an ongoing crash investigation by other State Patrol troopers."
Rushing sustained critical injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. He's since recovered, but not to the degree that he's back on duty full-time.
Thyfault was declared dead at the scene. He was credited with preventing injuries or worse to a tow-truck driver on the scene by shouting, "Get back. Get back. Stay off the road."
For his part, Gebers had a slew of drugs and weapons offenses on his record, and at the time of the crash, his license had been suspended.
A graphic on his Facebook timeline after his arrest suggests that he didn't take the prohibition against driving all that seriously:
At trial, prosecutors shared additional details that contributed to the tragedy. Gebers had fled after a trooper tried to pull him over for having blue headlights on his Honda. But the rear brakes on the car weren't working, and after the crash, he maintained that his accelerator had gotten stuck — a claim investigators didn't buy.
Additionally, Gebers was allegedly under the influence of meth and had more than an ounce of the substance in his car, leading to the supposition that he'd driven from Federal Heights to the Longmont area to take part in a narcotics sale.
The public defender who represented Gebers argued that the murder charge was excessive, but the jury didn't see it that way. Of the sixteen charges against him, he was found guilty of all but two: vehicular homicide and vehicular assault while driving under the influence.
The first-degree-murder conviction calls for a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole — the expected outcome of a sentencing hearing scheduled for November 4.
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