The Wrong Choice

"You had a good life. You had a good job. You had a family supporting you," Denver District Judge Christina Habas told Natalie McFarlane yesterday. "And you threw it all away."

And then she sent Natalie to prison for twenty years.

As reported in "Girl Crazy," in August 2005 Natalie was nineteen, taking classes at Westwood College and working at 24 Hour Fitness. She had no criminal record -- but her boyfriend, Andy Rudio, did. He was rolling with a crew of gangsters or wannabes, depending on who you ask. And one night he grabbed an AK-47 and jumped in Natalie's car to help out Terra Ramirez (above, left, with Andy and Natalie), a friend of Natalie's who was beefing with a rival set of girls connected to a different gang.

When Natalie and Andy met up with Terra Ramirez, she showed them a text message dissing Andy's crew. Natalie and Andy followed Terra to the home of one of her adversaries, and then Andy got out of the car and started blasting. One of the bullets hit two unintended targets: a pair of little girls, sisters, sleeping in their own bed.

Terra, Natalie and Andy were each charged with six counts of attempted murder, two first-degree assaults, two charges of illegally discharging a firearm, one conspiracy to commit criminal mischief and one count of conspiring to commit ian illegal discharge of a firearm.

Andy ended getting 180 years. Terra got ten. And on Tuesday, it was Natalie's turn to step in front of the court, and listen to how she'd forever changed two little girls' lives by bringing Andy to the scene of the crime. Originally Natalie had planned to take her case to trial, but she later struck a plea bargain with the district attorney.

During her stint time in prison, the judge told Natalie, she can learn from her mistakes and try to make the world a better place, or she can just do her time.

"I'm hoping that for once you'll make the right choice," Habas said. -- Luke Turf

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun