Probation term for man who menaced rider

Theodore Rich

A Fruita man accused of using his pickup truck to menace a woman riding her bicycle on Main Street last year — challenging her to a fight and nearly hitting her — was sentenced Thursday to serve three years of probation.

Theodore Rich, 27, also received a deferred judgment from the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office after pleading guilty to one count of menacing with a deadly weapon, and reckless driving, stemming from his arrest in connection with an incident Oct. 18, 2012. The deferred judgment means Rich will have a chance to erase the felony conviction if he stays out of trouble for the next three years.

District Judge Brian Flynn imposed no jail time, saying the 37 days Rich has already served in the Mesa County Jail was plenty.

A military veteran with service in Iraq and Afghanistan, Rich has been diagnosed with combat-related, post-traumatic stress disorder, public defender Thea Reiff told Flynn. Rich claims to have no memory of the 2012 incident, Reiff said.

“I think we’re here today because of a decision you made to defend our country,” Flynn said during sentencing.

An arrest affidavit said Grand Junction police pursued a warrant for Rich after investigation into an incident, which happened the night of Oct. 18, 2012. A woman called 911 and told an operator she’d abandoned her bicycle, scared for her life. She fled to Ratekin Tower, 875 Main St., for shelter.

The woman, 25, told police she was riding east on Main Street when a man driving a Ford pickup pulled up from behind, yelling insults. She remembered the license plate number.

They moved east on Main, into the Seventh Street roundabout.

“(Woman) said she exited the roundabout and immediately moved into the bike lane, but the male remained behind her continuing to yell at her to get the (expletive) out of the road,” the affidavit said. “(Woman) said at one point the male opened his door while the vehicle was in motion and challenged her to a fight. (Woman) said the male then shouted out, ‘I’ll (expletive) fight a girl.’”

She said he revved the engine and gunned the truck past her for about four blocks east, before turning around and speeding back.

“(Woman) stated the truck came within five feet of striking her,” the affidavit said.

The victim didn’t attend Thursday’s sentencing hearing because she’s still scared of Rich, Deputy District Attorney Bo Zeerip told the judge.

“I’m sorry about all this,” Rich told the judge.


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