Suspect’s family says they’re stunned and sorry

Derrick Maxfield’s aunt Leanne Leffler and friend Eric Foote of Battlement Mesa lament the deaths from the wreck on North Avenue which killed a mother and her daughter. Maxfield is in the Mesa County jail with a $100,000 bond.

Mug of Derrick Maxfield

Leah McLeod hadn’t seen the black-eyed, bloodied Derrick Maxfield staring out of the jail booking photo.

That person is her son, she knows, but that’s not a side of him she ever has known, McLeod said Tuesday, three days after her son allegedly ran a stoplight at high speed and crashed into a pickup with three passengers, killing two of them.

Confused about what happened to her son, McLeod said she also is distraught for the family of Shandi Boetel, 21, and Boetel’s 6-month-old daughter, Natalia Casiano, who died in the collision about 1 a.m. Saturday.

“Me saying this isn’t going to bring them back,” McLeod said. “But I feel for them, I really do.
I’m just torn up for them, as well. I’ve been praying for them every day.”

If there is anything her family can do, McLeod said, “We want to help.”

The Derrick they know is a far cry from the battered youth in the booking photo, said McLeod, her sister, LeAnn Leffler, and Maxfield’s girlfriend, Andrea Sudick.

That’s also not the boy who grew up in the Rifle and Parachute areas, playing peewee football and peewee wrestling and leading the Grand Valley High School Cardinals into the state playoffs in 2007.

“Everybody is just shocked,” McLeod said. “That’s just not him.”

The Derrick they knew is the kid who got a part-time job at a Glenwood Springs lumber company, where he worked after graduation, his family said. He was still working there, paying rent to his brother for a room, and was proud to have earned enough money to buy and afford to maintain, from gas to insurance, his car.

“He was pretty proud of himself,” said Leffler, his aunt.

Maxfield opted against enrolling at Mesa State for a year because he couldn’t decide on a major, though he was considering journalism and had written for the Grand Valley High paper, his mother said.

Her son was no drinker and came from a family in which a red-hot Friday night consisted of karaoke and some television in the Leffler front room. Only recently had her son been cajoled into taking the microphone, McLeod said.

She would urge him to tell where he obtained the alcohol, McLeod said.

Sudick, who was with him at a friend’s house where Maxfield was drinking, according to court papers, said she couldn’t discuss what happened.

Grand Junction police said investigators were putting together a timeline of the events that led to the crash and couldn’t comment further.

Derrick is a sensitive person and is “devastated” by what happened, his mom said. McLeod said she hoped the jail was providing him some counseling.

McLeod said she has no illusions about the feelings of the Casiano and Boetel families.

“I know they hate me and they hate my son,” she said.

But she made contact with Mothers Against Drunk Driving and will be involved with the organization. Her son would do the same if given the opportunity, she said.

McLeod, her family and friends will be in court Thursday to give them all the support they can muster, she said, urging people to have open minds.


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