Suspect pleads guilty, sentenced in fatal beating of gas worker

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A man pleaded guilty Wednesday in the 2005 fatal beating of an oil and gas worker and received a three-year prison sentence.

But the victim’s mother, Karen Brooks of Montrose, said Ronald Isaac’s real punishment will come when he is judged by God.

“For a monster to come into our world and take something so precious is unforgivable. … I realize there isn’t enough justice here on earth for Isaac,” she told Judge Daniel Petre before Petre accepted a plea agreement and accompanying sentencing recommendation from prosecutors.

Brooks’ son, Paul Graves, was attacked the night of Feb. 22, 2005, after going to a bar with Isaac. He was found the next morning in a Parachute modular home that Nabors Drilling USA provided to employees. Another employee said Isaac was in the home with Graves but hadn’t called an ambulance.

Graves suffered serious brain and other injuries but didn’t succumb to them until April 15, 2006, authorities say.

Isaac was booked into Garfield County Jail in May 2008 on charges including second-degree murder after being transferred from Florida, where he had begun serving a 10-year sentence for burglary.

Prosecutors dropped all other charges in exchange for Isaac’s guilty plea to a felony charge of reckless manslaughter.

Isaac won’t receive any credit for the time he has been in custody since his arrest. He will begin his Colorado sentence in 2015, after completing his sentence in Florida. He then will face three years of parole.

Graves’ family agreed to the plea deal. In an interview, Ninth Judicial District Attorney Martin Beeson said it doesn’t provide adequate justice for them or Graves. But he said proving Isaac’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial would have been difficult for reasons such as the lack of eyewitnesses to the beating, and the challenge of showing it caused Graves’ later death.

Prosecutors also say the case suffered from an inadequate initial police investigation.

Beeson inherited what was then a nonfatal beating case after taking office in early 2006 following a successful 2005 recall campaign against former DA Colleen Truden.

“The case cried out for an investigation so we decided to take it and try to build a case,” he said.

Isaac addressed Brooks Wednesday, saying he was at a loss for words and that “sorry is not good enough.”

He said he has struggled with anger problems, and from having a chip on his shoulder from the death of a brother.

“This woman lost her son. I lost my brother. I know what she’s going through; it ain’t good,” he told Petre.


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