For vehicular homicide, man to serve 12 years
A week before her death, 20-year-old Rebekah Joy King typed a message on Facebook waxing about change.
“You have to be willing to see the bad side,” District Judge Richard Gurley said in court Friday morning, reciting King’s posting, which was among stacks of correspondence submitted to the judge by both sides in the case of 28-year-old Henry Stoltman.
“To see that side,” the judge continued, “you have to be willing to change.”
Gurley said the words rang prophetic in the life of Stoltman, an alcoholic with already one trip to rehab before the night of Aug. 2, 2010, when he crashed his pickup into King’s vehicle on Patterson Road, killing her instantly.
“The court doesn’t look at you as a bad man,” Gurley said before passing sentence, later acknowledging Stoltman’s actions Aug. 2 were “seriously ill-advised.”
Presiding over an emotionally charged courtroom, Gurley sentenced Stoltman to serve 12 years in prison for King’s death. Gurley could have imposed a probation term or up to 24 years in prison under the open terms of a plea agreement struck in January.
Stoltman will be eligible for parole after serving three or four years of his sentence, Deputy District Attorney Todd Hildebrandt said. He also will be afforded a chance to meet with King’s family, Tim and Debbie King, prior to his departure for state prison.
Tim King, supported by more than 30 family members and friends, told the judge his family prays for Stoltman and called on Gurley to strike a balance between reasonable punishment and “crushing” him.
“We pray he finds redemption from this experience and can go from being the man who killed Rebekah King to the man who gives his life to the betterment of the community,” Tim King said.
On Aug. 2, Stoltman first told Colorado State Patrol troopers he had 4 1/2 beers before the accident, which happened at 9:35 p.m. in the eastbound lane of Patterson Road and near its intersection with 29 1/2 Road.
King, who was driving a 2005 Nissan Sentra, was turning left from Placer Street onto F Road when the vehicle was struck in the driver’s side by Stoltman’s 1986 Dodge pickup. A trooper was within 300 feet of the crash scene and was attempting to stop Stoltman’s pickup after the trooper had observed the truck without its headlights on.
Several witnesses told authorities Stoltman’s pickup narrowly avoided at least one collision with a driver, and Stoltman was observed at one point looking up at his rear-view mirror to observe officers behind him in pursuit, Hildebrandt said. Stoltman’s truck was moving at 55 to 61 mph at the time of the collision. The speed limit on that stretch of Patterson is 45 mph.
Tested within 50 minutes of the accident, Stoltman’s blood-alcohol level was nearly four times Colorado’s legal limit for driving.
Heidi Taylor, his public defender, said Stoltman attended Alcoholics Anonymous classes in the months after his arrest, but he stopped going when members of the group apparently learned he was facing charges in connection with King’s death.
Stoltman asked for what would be a second shot at rehabilitation; he completed a residential program through The Salvation Army in 2008. He shed tears during a slide show that prosecutors presented Friday at the start of the hearing. The photos were of King throughout her childhood.