Man faces homicide charge in fatal crash

6 felony counts filed in wreck that killed 2

The mother of a 24-year-old woman who was killed in a nasty car crash nearly two years ago pleaded with a judge Friday not to charge her daughter’s boyfriend, the driver of their vehicle.

“He’s paid his dues,” Lois Kramer said of her deceased daughter’s boyfriend, Denny Hatch, 33. “It’s not going to bring her back.”

Hatch was arrested on a warrant Thursday on suspicion of causing a fatal car crash on Orchard Mesa on June 6, 2007. Hatch’s daughter, 5-year-old Elizabeth “Sissy” Hatch, and Jennifer Scarbrough died from injuries they sustained in the crash.

Hatch, who appeared via video conference from Mesa County Jail, teared up while explaining to Mesa County Judge Bruce Raaum some of the pain he’s endured since that horrific crash.

“I loved those two girls. I didn’t purposefully hurt them,” Hatch said. “Two years went by. I thought this case was pretty much over. I know I shouldn’t have been driving.”

Deputy District Attorney Richard Brown said Friday he could not speak about why Hatch is now being charged in the deaths.

Hatch was advised by Raaum on four charges of vehicular homicide and two charges of child abuse resulting in death, all felonies. Judge Raaum, however, reduced Hatch’s initial $150,000 bond to $100,000.

Hatch’s driver’s license has been revoked since 2001. He also was cited twice for driving without a license and has 10 prior misdemeanors, Raaum said.

According to an arrest affidavit, Hatch told Colorado State Patrol trooper Justin Mitchell that he had smoked marijuana early in the evening the night before the crash, and he had used methamphetamine about a month to two months before the crash. Hatch voluntarily submitted to a blood-draw drug test, saying he was not high and would do whatever authorities requested, the affidavit said.

Hatch’s blood was analyzed at the Colorado Department of Health and Environment on July 6, 2007, and tested presumptive positive for cannabis. It was tested again and came back positive the second time for cannabis, the affidavit said. Hatch’s blood came back negative for alcohol from a test on July 2, 2007.

Sissy Hatch was so happy to see her dad’s girlfriend, Jennifer Scarbrough, that she scooted into the front seat of the Saturn sedan, driven by her dad, so she could give her a hug, family members have said.

Scarbrough was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, and Scarbrough’s 18-month-old son, Trevor Scarbrough, was in a car seat. The boy’s car seat was found upside down between the rear seat and the center console immediately following the collision, and an investigation showed the car seat likely was not secured into the car, the affidavit said. Trevor sustained minor injuries.

Denny Hatch sustained a punctured lung and broken ribs.

Hatch’s vehicle was hit broadside on U.S. Highway 50. He pulled into traffic and tried to “punch” the accelerator when he realized the car was going to be hit, the affidavit said.

Telluride resident Gary Hasting, whose van struck Hatch’s car in midturn, was treated for minor injuries and released at the scene.

Scarbrough left behind another son, Dillon, who was then 5 years old. Family members have taken in Jennifer’s children.

Denny Hatch told investigators he allowed his daughter to crawl into his girlfriend’s lap because they were so close to home. Hatch’s mother, Karen Shawler, said after the hearing that she is shocked prosecutors are resurrecting the case after so much time has passed.

Shawler said she helped her son, known by family members as DJ, deal with nonstop nightmares.

Shawler and Kramer attended the hearing together to beg the court not to prosecute Denny Hatch, whom Scarbrough had been dating for about two years.

“I don’t understand why all of sudden they want to press charges,” Shawler said.


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