ALAMOSA — Assuring him he will wind up in the Department of Corrections if he has any further violations, Chief District Judge Pattie Swift on Thursday re-sentenced Carl Lane, 72, of Byers to three years in Community Corrections for violating probation in a criminally negligent homicide case.
Lane had been on probation for a May 13, 2016 fatal accident on Highway 17 in which Texas resident Larry Howey, 76, had died and his wife Doreen had been injured. It was the third fatal crash (resulting in four fatalities) in which Lane had been involved since 1998.
“This is the third accident or car wreck in which you have been involved where people died. It’s shocking to me that you could find yourself, put yourself in a position to have that happen three times in the course of your lifetime,” Judge Swift told Lane during the sentencing.
“You say it was an accident. It’s something different when it happens over and over again,” the judge added.
She said it was even more unbelievable that after District Judge Michael Gonzales gave Lane “a serious break” with probation in this case and told him if he drove again he would wind up in prison, Lane chose to drive again. “I don’t understand that for one second,” Swift said. “It is shocking to the court that you could choose to drive in that circumstance. I would expect you would never drive again, given your history and what harm you have caused to people in the course of driving.”
Lane violated probation in this case by picking up a driving under restraint charge in Arapahoe County where he pleaded guilty. Lane admitted the probation violation before Judge Swift in court on Thursday. She accepted his admission and revoked his probation
“I got myself in this mess,” Lane told the judge. “Just be as gentle as you can.”
In connection with the Howey fatality Lane had pleaded guilty to felony criminally negligent homicide, which was reduced from the original vehicular homicide charge. He also pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death, for which he served a year in the county jail, and driving under revocation, for which he served a six-month jail sentence concurrent to the careless driving charge. Judge Gonzales sentenced Lane to the Department of Corrections at that time but suspended the sentence as long as Lane successfully completed probation and did not drive.
Judge Swift on Thursday said Lane could be re-sentenced to 1-3 years in the Department of Corrections.
Probation Officer Pat Herrera recommended three years in the Department of Corrections with seven days credit for time served on this charge. He also recommended waiving $2,450 in supervision fees, which the judge approved.
District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen said she would honor the agreement between Deputy DA Kelsey Waldorf and Lane’s attorney Raymond Miller for a Community Corrections sentence.
She added that this is not Lane’s first crash involving a death of another person, and for that reason her office in 2017 had vociferously argued for the maximum three-year sentence to the Department of Corrections. At that time Lane received probation with the promise from Judge Gonzales that if he drove again he would go to DOC.
“We are in a situation where he has in fact driven again,” Newmyer-Olsen said.
She said the probation complaint has been pending before the court for several months, but her office was agreeable to delays to allow Lane to recover from back surgery to the point he was no longer in a wheelchair and could walk, a requirement if he were to be accepted into Community Corrections. Honoring her office’s agreement with Miller, Newmyer-Olsen recommended a three-year sentence to Community Corrections.
Miller also recommended the three-year sentence to Community Corrections. Given Lane’s current health, Miller said he did not think it would be in the cause of justice to send him to DOC.
Miller added, “Mr. Lane had admitted he had done wrong and he did that on all occasions … and he should be punished, and he recognizes that.”
Judge Swift said the court does not typically go against the DA’s recommendation and impose a harsher sentence than the DA recommends, so she would follow the DA’s recommendation. However, she said if Lane has any violations in Community Corrections, “I promise the sentence is going to be to the Department of Corrections. That’s just it. That’s the way it has to be.”
Herrera said Community Corrections does not have an open bed available until the end of April, but if that changes, he would let Lane know so he could begin his sentence sooner. Lane will be free until that time.