CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – A mistrial was declared Friday in the second trial for the man charged in the death of Colorado State Patrol Trooper Cody Donahue. Donahue died in November 2016 after being hit by a semi-trailer driven by Noe Gamez-Ruiz on Interstate 25 near the Tomah exit.
Donahue was standing in the shoulder of the highway filling out a crash report when he was struck. Gamez-Ruiz was charged with criminally negligent homicide in the deadly crash. Now for the second time his trial has come to a sudden halt.
His widow Velma Donahue described him to CBS4 in a previous interview as “Wonderful, he was amazing. He was a friend father and a husband.”
Harvey Steinberg, the defendant’s attorney, told CBS4 the mistrial was declared because the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence and defense did not find out about it until Thursday.
The mistrial was declared because a deputy testified that the truck pulled to right when he tried to drive it after the crash. The truck’s movement also was described having occurred during a later reenactment. The defense was not informed of the information in advance.
“The DA’s office took responsibility for the mistrial for not knowing that information would come out on the stand,” said Steinberg.
18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said he was anguished by the mistrial.
“It happens twice and not just to any other member of our community, but to a member of our law enforcement family, that is a soul-sucking outcome,” said Brauchler.
“I truly extend my sympathies to the family and to members of the Colorado State Patrol,” said Chief Deputy DA Jason Siers.
Donahue’s widow Velma issued a statement which read, “The family is devastated by today’s outcome. We are angry and hurt that the justice system is failing to provide justice for Cody. The men and women in law enforcement deserve protection, support and knowledge that the laws in place are there to protect them while they protect us.”
The previous trial ended in a mistrial in September 2018. Court officials say the judge made the ruling because the prosecution failed to disclose information to defense lawyers.
Brauchler said the issue arose in that trial while a pathologist was testifying for the prosecution.
Since Donahue’s death, then-Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law the Move Over For Cody act which created strict penalties for drivers who don’t move over a lane when passing law enforcement, highway workers or tow truck drivers.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)