CASTLE ROCK, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado jury on Monday found Noe Gamez-Ruiz guilty of two charges: careless driving- passing of an emergency vehicle resulting in death and failure to remain in a single lane, and not guilty of careless driving resulting in death in the death of a Colorado state trooper. It was 4½ years ago when a northbound semi, driven by Gamez-Ruiz, on Interstate 25 struck and killed Cody Donahue who was investigating another accident at the time.
“It doesn’t feel like a win, but it is a relief to know that he has been found guilty and is responsible for my husband’s death,” said Velma Donahue.
Velma Donahue lost a husband and a father to their children. The Colorado State Patrol lost a man whose job was to make the roads safer.
The driver, Gamez-Ruiz, was at first charged with criminally negligent homicide. It was later reduced by a judge to lesser charges due to the failure of the prosecution to turn over certain evidence.
“For heaven’s sake, put down the distractions and move the hell over. There are people’s lives at stake,” said Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew Packard.
Packard noted that Donahue volunteered to assist at a minor accident on I-25 near Tomah Road. That’s where he was struck.
The jury in Douglas County deliberated for 5 hours on Friday before taking a break for the weekend. Jurors resumed deliberations on Monday and returned with the split verdict a short time later.
“This conduct was so egregious, Colorado has since changed its laws to make this a felony. I am satisfied that this jury rendered the just and proper verdict given the evidence in this case,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney George Brauchler, who tried the case with Assistant District Attorney Tom Byrnes, in a statement. “No outcome of this case can replace what Gamez-Ruiz took from the Donahue family — a husband, father, son, brother, friend and public servant. But it is formal recognition that the responsibility for Cody’s killing lies squarely with Gamez-Ruiz.”
Gamez-Ruiz had been a professional commercial truck driver.
“I think this guy is likely to never have a commercial driver’s license ever again,” said Brauchler.
Gamez-Ruiz is set to be sentenced on July 30. The maximum penalty is 12 months in jail and he will be eligible for probation.
“How do you serve justice on someone who is gone, who was murdered, how do you do that?” asked Velma Donahue.