Sentence delayed in Wright-related drunk driving case
Mesa County Judge Craig Henderson has issued a stay of sentence, delaying penalties he ordered in late June, in order to hear arguments for a new trial in an impaired-driving case resting on testimony from former Fruita police officer Jared Wright, the embattled Republican candidate for House District 54.
Rebecca Palmquist, 39, was sentenced to serve two years probation, 90 days of suspended jail time, pay $600 in fines and complete 68 hours of alcohol-education classes after she was convicted of driving while ability impaired on June 20 by a six-person jury.
Palmquist refused to submit to chemical sobriety testing when she was pulled over by Wright last September, so the trial consisted largely of “Ms. Palmquist’s word against Officer Wright’s,” Deputy Public Defender Elsa Archambault wrote in a motion for a new trial.
The Public Defender’s Office on Monday served a subpoena to the Fruita Police Department for release of an internal affairs investigation involving Wright and all other records concerning “truthfulness,” according to a filing in the case.
The Fruita probe involving Wright was under way when Wright testified during Palmquist’s trial, but Archambault wrote in her motion for a new trial she didn’t learn about it until July 23 when Mesa County District Attorney Pete Hautzinger distributed letters to the Mesa County Defense Bar advising of possible credibility concerns with the officer.
Archambault would seek to impeach Wright’s credibility before the jury in a possible second trial.
The judge has scheduled a hearing on the new trial issue later this month.
Wright was offered the chance to be fired or resign after an internal affairs investigation concluded he was chronically late for work and dishonest about his whereabouts on the job on June 14.
While Wright told Colorado Republican Party officials he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection because of bad investments, records show Wright listed consumer debts topping $74,000 as the reason for the filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Denver.
Wright is an endorsed prosecution witness in 13 Mesa County criminal matters, including felony and misdemeanor cases.