CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4)– A Colorado teenager pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter Friday, more than nine months after crashing his vehicle with another and claiming the lives of two women.
Taden Jones, 19, took a plea deal at the Arapahoe County Courthouse in Centennial. Jones was driving when he struck and killed Carolyn Burton and Gayle Buckwalter in April 2016 in a drunk driving crash. The plea could land Jones in prison for up to 24 years.
“It is a terrible thing to live with, knowing you killed two people for the rest of your life,” said Elizabeth Johnson, the daughter of one of the victims.
“I feel bad for the [Jones] family,” said Bill Buckwalter, Gayle’s son. “But, I’m very satisfied, and hopeful that justice will be done.”
Jones’ attorney, Suzanne Rogers, told CBS4 her client was scared about his future, yet understood why he was facing punishment.
“He was 18-years-old, he is 19 now,” Rogers said. “He is pretty devastated. At 18, it is hard to take everything in, and to know the gravity of what had happened.”
Rogers said she hoped, during sentencing on March 13, her client would be released on probation. However, Rogers said she expected her client to be sentenced to prison time.
“Obviously, if [Jones] could do it over again, he would do things a whole lot differently,” Rogers said.
While some related to the victims said they had forgiven Jones, others said they still wanted to hear an apology.
Rogers said Jones wanted to apologize earlier, but was not allowed to under her own recommendation. She said Jones will make an official apology at his sentencing hearing, and will also then give the families letters he wrote long ago which explain his remorse.
“It doesn’t take away the pain, or anger, or hurt or sadness for losing the woman that took care of me,” said Nikki Hudson, the granddaughter of one of the victims.
Dillon Thomas is a reporter at CBS4 and a Colorado native. He believes everyone has a story, and would love to share yours! You can find more of his stories by following him on Twitter, @DillonMThomas.