CASTLE ROCK, Colo. – A mistrial has again been declared in the state’s case against Noe Gamez-Ruiz, the man accused of hitting and killing Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue along Interstate 25 in November 2016.
This is the second time a mistrial has been declared in trials involving Gamez-Ruiz, who faces charges of criminally negligent homicide, failure to yield the right of way to an emergency vehicle and careless driving causing death.
“Frankly, (I’m) very disappointed in the where we’re at today and very disappointed in the outcome,” Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers said during a news conference Friday, adding the district attorney’s office extends their sympathies to the family and to the Colorado State Patrol “for the harm that it (mistrial) has caused them.”
Siers said during the news conference the District Attorney’s Office would be setting a new trial date next week.
Also speaking at the news conference was 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler, who read a statement from Velma Donahue, the slain deputy’s widow:
“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.”
A mistrial was declared in his first trial last September after an expert witness on the stand revealed an opinion that had not previously been disclosed in court filings about what part of Gamez-Ruiz’s truck allegedly hit Donahue.
According to Gamez-Ruiz’s attorney, Harvey Steinberg, the latest mistrial was declared by the judge in the case Friday after a police officer who test drove the vehicle after the crash testified that Gamez-Ruiz’s vehicle pulled to the right during the reenactment.
Steinberg said he argued that was exculpatory information in the case that had been withheld previously, and that the evidence should not have been withheld because the facts of the case showed Donahue was struck by the right side of the vehicle and that part of his body was in the right lane of traffic.
Steinberg said that the court felt there was “no choice but to grant a mistrial” in the latest case because of that evidence. Additionally, he said he feels like the proceedings against his client have been “unfair” because of the way prosecutors have handled them.
“It seems to be so unfair to put a citizen in a situation where they are trying to defend themselves, but prosecutors keep making mistake after mistake – intentionally or inadvertently – and it’s costing my client a fortune, and it’s costing taxpayers a fortune,” Steinberg told Denver7 Friday.
He said that Gamez-Ruiz would “just like to have his day in court, but to make sure that it’s a fair proceeding.” Steinberg said that has not been the case up to this point.
“I absolutely dispute the notion that we’re treating their client unfairly,” Brauchler said during the news conference. “The allegations are here that because of his conduct, we lost a State Trooper, father of two and husband killed by that conduct. I do not think that the way we've approached this case is in any way unfair.”
Brauchler went on to place the blame on Friday’s events on his own office, calling the second mistrial in the trooper’s death “a soul sucking outcome.”
“We are responsible for this outcome here today,” he said. “As the DA or prosecutor, we are responsible to make sure that all the information that we are gonna be up presenting at court is discovered and provided to the defense in a way that it might make a difference.”
Brauchler also said that he does not think that the testimony from the police officer who test drove the vehicle after the crash “will be of any significant consequence in the case moving forward.”
Watch the news conference below:
Steinberg did not speculate on what the state plans to do next in the case. Prosecutors with the 18th Judicial District will host a news conference Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. to discuss the mistrial and what comes next. District Attorney George Brauchler and Senior Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers are expected to answer questions.
Gamez-Ruiz has remained out on bond during the proceedings.
Donahue was killed on Nov. 26, 2016 as he responded to a crash on I-25 near mile marker 179 and Gamez-Ruiz’s truck allegedly drifted over the solid white shoulder line and struck him.
In the two-plus years since his death, Colorado lawmakers created the Move Over for Cody Act, which requires drivers to move over if they see officers or highway workers on the road.
The second trial began Monday with jury selection and was expected to end on Tuesday, Feb. 19.