A Year for a Life

Chris LaFore begged the judge's forgiveness for using the present tense when she talked about her dead son Jason in a Jefferson County courtroom last Tuesday. Almost nine months earlier, Gregory Nester had pulled his truck and trailer out in front of Jason; Jason's motorcycle had collided with the truck, and Jason died at the scene. Now the courtroom was silent as Chris asked the judge to give Nester the maximum sentence possible -- up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine, on the charge of reckless driving resulting in death to which Nester had already pleaded guilty.

Chris told the judge the story of "Jace's' younger brother, Christian, who was riding a motorcycle when he was killed in a similar accident six years before. "I pray every night,' she said. "'Please let me dream of my boys tonight.''

The LaFores own a custom motorcycle shop in Lakewood, where both boys worked until their accidents. Inside the shop, which is just down the street from where Nester cut Jace off, a bike with an engine built by Christian sits in a frame created by Jace ("The Ride of Their Lives,' January 13).

Before Judge James Demlow handed down the sentence, the defendant's attorney explained that his client had been pulling a trailer filled with furniture from his mother, who'd recently died. Nester is from Texas and unfamiliar with the area where he was driving. He's also a Big Brother volunteer, a blood donor and a working member of society with no criminal record, the attorney said. Plus, he's a biker who wears a helmet, while Jason was a rider who didn't. (Helmets aren't required in Colorado.) And Nester himself read an apologetic statement in his thick Texas accent.

That statement didn't do him much good. Because of his interest in motorcycles, the judge said, he should have had more concern for other bikers on the road. He sentenced Nester to the full year in jail and the maximum $1,000 fine. And then Judge Demlow refused a requested stay of thirty days so that Nester could prepare for his sentence.

Nester was taken away in handcuffs.

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Luke Turf