Man gets 7 years in crash that killed friend
Despite all the good things said about him in court, a 21-year-old Fruita man was sentenced by a judge Tuesday to a year in jail and six years in community corrections for killing his best friend in a drunken-driving crash earlier this year.
Jesse Reed had been drinking during the day on Feb. 15 with friends and had five shots of alcohol at a local nightclub before driving away and crashing his vehicle on U.S. Highway 6&50. John Fullmer IV, 23, was killed at the scene, while 19-year-old Charles Troutman was seriously injured.
Reed pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol. Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn rejected an initial plea agreement that called only for probation for Reed.
“Nobody’s saying you’re a bad person,” Flynn said while imposing the sentence. “In fact, quite the opposite is true. Sometimes good people commit very bad crimes.”
Flynn said he could not impose a sentence of probation for Reed because it wouldn’t “develop a respect for the law to put someone on probation for vehicular homicide.”
He said his sentencing decision was based on a number of circumstances, including the amount of alcohol Reed drank and the severity of the crash.
However, not even the victim’s father, John Fullmer III, wanted Reed to be subjected to a harsh sentence. Fullmer said Reed and Reed’s father came to the Fullmers’ home in the days after the crash and apologized.
Prosecutors said their willingness to offer probation to Reed was based on the family’s wishes and the fact Reed had no adult criminal record. Dozens of friends and family wrote letters to Flynn in support of Reed, and Reed’s former high school history teacher spoke about him in glowing terms in court. Reed had been employed since high school and served as class president and head boy at Grand Junction High School.
Reed’s attorney, David Eisner, argued to Flynn that Reed’s sentence should be lighter in comparison to other vehicular homicide cases because his client’s case wasn’t as aggravated.
“We have a situation where our state recognizes that every case is considered unique,” Eisner said. “We’re not looking at someone who tried to outrun police.”
Deputy District Attorney Jason Conley said Tuesday that Fullmer’s mother, while aware that no sentence would bring back her son, wanted Reed to be held accountable.
“She would hope as a result of this accident Mr. Reed would never even contemplate drinking alcohol and getting near a car again,” Conley said.
Reed apologized in court and shared tearful handshakes and hugs with family and friends before a Mesa County Sheriff’s Department deputy took him to jail. Reed can serve the remainder of his jail term at community corrections if a bed there opens within a year.
“I really couldn’t tell you what’s fair or not fair in this whole thing,” Reed said. “I’d give anything to take that decision (to drive drunk) back. I do know that I’m sorry for what I’ve done.”