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Drunk Driver Who Killed Reporter Sentenced

By Melissa Garcia

DENVER, Colo. (CBS4) – The driver who hit and killed a Denver Post reporter was sentenced to prison Friday in Denver district court.

Jesus Carreno, 24, pleaded guilty in January to vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

Colleen O'Conner (credit: Denver Post)

Colleen O’Connor (credit: Denver Post)

Colleen O’Connor, 60, was on her daily walk on the evening of August 31st 2016 when she was hit and killed while crossing the street against the light at 1st Avenue and Downing Street.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

At Friday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Sheila Rappaport handed down the maximum 6-years in prison to Carreno.

After serving the first four months of the sentence, Carreno will get a reconsideration hearing in which the judge could turn the following 2-6 years of his sentence into probation.

The sentence may have reflected what Rappaport saw as “genuine remorse.”

Carreno cried in court as family members and friends of O’Connor expressed forgiveness and spoke on the devastating loss that they say has forever seared their hearts.

Dana Coffield (credit: CBS)

Dana Coffield (credit: CBS)

Dana Coffield, editor at the Denver Post, said that O’Connor had worked for the newspaper as a reporter for the better part of 13-years.  She also said that losing a co-worker in the deadly accident had given her more compassion for victims in cases that the newspaper covers.

Carreno had just come from a work-gathering at a Rockies game downtown and was four times the legal limit when he slammed into O’Connor, according to prosecutors.

Marjorie Allison (credit: CBS)

Marjorie Allison (credit: CBS)

Marjorie Allison, a friend of the victim who took the stand, told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia that the culture of drinking and driving needed to change.  Allison said that the responsibility lies in everyone’s hands to keep an eye out for friends and family members who may have had too much to drink and to keep them from getting behind the wheel.

Carreno took the stand expressing his regret for his decision to drive under the influence, and said that he takes full responsibility for O’Connor’s death.

“Knowing that I have taken a life is possibly the most painful experience I could ever imagine,” Carreno told the judge during the hearing.

Jesus Carreno (credit: CBS)

Jesus Carreno (credit: CBS)

Carreno’s sentence included the maximum 96-hours of public service, along with speaking to others to deter them from drinking and driving.  He is also required to meet in person with O’Connor’s friends and family members.

Melissa Garcia has been reporting for CBS4 News since March 2014. Find her bio here, follow her on Twitter @MelissaGarciaTV, or send your story idea to mkgarcia@cbs.com.

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