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Second Mistrial Declared in Colorado State Patrol Trooper Death Case

Trooper Cody Donahue was killed in the line of duty in November 2016.
Trooper Cody Donahue was killed in the line of duty in November 2016.
Colorado State Patrol
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Today, February 15, a judge declared a second mistrial in a case involving a truck driver who struck and killed Colorado State Patrol trooper Cody Donahue in November 2016. Douglas County District Court judge Shay Whitaker said evidence that could have potentially benefited the defendant was revealed too late.

The evidence came to light on February 14, when the Douglas County sheriff's deputy who test-drove the truck following the accident testified that it felt like it was pulling to the right.

"It’s regrettable, and it is something that I’m extremely disappointed in and frustrated by," said 18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler during a press conference today, adding that the court concluded that the omission was unintentional.

18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler.
18th Judicial District DA George Brauchler.

Donahue was attending to a wrecked vehicle on the side of Interstate 25 near Castle Rock when he was struck and killed by a commercial truck driven by Noe Gamez-Ruiz. The prosecution argued that Donahue's death was criminally negligent homicide.

The first trial, which took place in September 2018, also ended in a mistrial after the defense took issue with both witness and expert-witness testimony. After the mistrial, the court limited the sentence length in the event of a conviction from one to three years to twelve to eighteen months.

Brauchler said he expects the court will issue another sanction but would be surprised if it threw the case out entirely.

Aside from Gamez-Ruiz having to potentially go to trial for a third time, Donahue's family has also struggled through what has become a lengthy legal process.

"The family is devastated by today’s outcome. We are angry and hurt that the justice system is failing to provide justice for Cody. The men and women in law enforcement deserve protection, support and knowledge that the laws in place are there to protect them while they protect us. Please remember to move over for Cody," said Donahue's wife, Velma, in a statement.

"Move over" is a reference to the Move Over for Cody Act, a law signed by then-governor John Hickenlooper in June 2017 that stipulates drivers must move over a lane when passing a stationary emergency vehicle.

A new trial date will be set on February 20.

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