JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. - An 83-year-old man who crossed a double yellow line to pass another driver and collided with a Jefferson County sheriff's deputy, killing him, will serve 6 years for the crime.
Kenneth Martin Hosch, of Golden, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide in the Jan. 26 death of Sgt. Dave Baldwin. His sentencing was decided Friday.
Before the judge's decision was read, the court heard from Sheriff Ted Mink who said nothing could prepare him for a deputy's death on duty. He encouraged the court to show that a reckless disregard for the law would not be tolerated.
Prosecutors said Hosch was driving at 79 mph in a 55 mph zone seconds before the collision that killed Baldwin.
Prosecutor says there has to be a consequence for his actions. He was going 79 mph. And he was in the wrong lane.— Lance Hernandez (@lancehernandez7) August 29, 2014
Baldwin's wife, Crystal Baldwin, also spoke Friday. She told the court her husband would try to find the good in Hosch, but also would believe he should take responsibility for his crime.
"My husband believed in the good in people, even after years of seeing the worst," she said, before asking the judge to put Hosch behind bars.
Hosch destroyed a family, she said, and left the community without a powerful guardian.
She asked judge to make him endure "what we've endured."— Lance Hernandez (@lancehernandez7) August 29, 2014
Baldwin, a 27-year veteran of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, was on duty and wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
"What went wrong on that disastrous Sunday morning in January? Did I lose consciousness for a couple of seconds and end up in the wrong lane of traffic? I don't remember. Did I see a motorcycle come toward me? I did not. There was just this horrendous crash," Hosch said in court.
He tearfully continued, "The only thing I could think was, 'No, no, no, this could not be,' but it was."
Hosch said he should have better evaluated his ability to drive, taking into account his diminished eyesight, hearing and age-affected "cognitive skills."
"Like many people, I am faced with getting old," he said. "I have a hard time to admit that my physical and especially mental abilities are declining."
The defense asked that he be allowed to educate other elderly drivers and their families in lieu of prison or jail.
Hosch concluded, "I will put my faith in the judge's hands and I will accept an appropriate punishment."
Hosch's son says it's easy for media to villify his dad, but says he's a human being. Asks judge to let his dad work with elderly & children— Lance Hernandez (@lancehernandez7) August 29, 2014
After the statements, the defense played an educational video made by Hosch. While it was playing, Baldwin's wife left the courtroom.
The final word for the defense came from Hosch's attorney. He asked for a sentence of probation with conditions prohibiting him from driving and participation in education for other elderly drivers.
After a short recess, Judge Margie Enquist heard rebuttals from the prosecution and then delivered her decision, sentencing Hosch to 6 years in Community Corrections.
She noted that Hosch had a pattern of unsafe driving dating back over 20 years.
"He had four convictions for going 10 to 19 over the speed limit beginning in 1991," the Judge said. "In 2010 he had the first rear-end accident on Highway 93. In 2012, he rear-ended a second vehicle on 93 close to where this collision occurred. Those were all warning signs that Mr. Hosch disregarded."
First Judicial District Attorney Peter Weir said, "This case was about behavior and conduct over the past 20 years. Mr. Hosch had clear warning signs repeatedly that he was a menace on our roads. Unfortunately, he ignored those signs and this tragedy resulted."
Weir told 7NEWS that Community Corrections means Hosch will serve his sentence outside of jail or prison, but in a locked and secure facility.
-- Deputy Baldwin remembered with honor--
"Dave wore that badge with pride, humility and purpose," Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink. "Dave Baldwin was the embodiment of the motto 'serve and protect.'"
Baldwin married his first wife, Stephanie, in 1990 and adopted a son named Joshua. Baldwin cared for Stephanie during her 2-year battle with cancer before she died. Baldwin later met and married his second wife, Crystal.
Joshua spoke at his dad's funeral.
"When I try to look for words that aptly embody my dad's character I quickly have a list of what I hope to be as a man," Josh said. "Strong, fun, hard-working, honest, full of joy, full of honor and integrity, well-respected and driven by passion. I hope to be all these things some day and I believe I can because I had an amazing father to show me the way."