A man pleaded guilty Thursday in 6th Judicial District Court to driving drunk and crashing into a tree, which resulted in the death of a passenger and serious injury to another.
Justin Jobe, 36, was charged with extreme indifference murder, a class 1 felony, for driving under the influence at extreme speeds over 110 mph in a 45 mph zone when he crashed into a tree and killed passenger Logan Bratzler, 36, and seriously injured Ike Raidl, another passenger, said Sean Murray, assistant district attorney.
The man pleaded guilty to one count of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault and faces eight to 18 years in prison, Murray said.
A plea agreement says he could be liable for fines of $3,000 to $750,000 for Bratzler’s death, and $2,000 to $500,000 for injuries to Raidl.
After midnight on July 31, Jobe was driving himself and his passengers from downtown Durango to a rental property where they planned to celebrate a bachelor party when he struck a tree on County Road 210 (the road that accesses Lake Nighthorse) near milepost 4, according to an arrest affidavit.
Several Colorado State Patrol units responded to the crash where troopers found Jobe and his passengers. Bratzler was unresponsive, lacked a pulse and was trapped in the vehicle, court documents say.
A strong scent of alcohol hung on Jobe’s breath, his eyes were bloodshot and his speech was slurred, according to court documents. Jobe told officers he was driving back to a rental unit to celebrate a bachelor party after having several beers and vodkas with Red Bull at a bar downtown.
Jobe refused a roadside sobriety test and was subsequently placed under arrest at the scene, court documents say. After a trooper informed Jobe about Colorado’s express consent, a chemical sampling method used to determine blood or breath alcohol content required by state law, Jobe chose to have his blood drawn. He was taken to Mercy Hospital where he had three blood samples taken over one-hour intervals.
After Jobe was released from the hospital, he was taken to La Plata County Jail and booked. His initial bail was set at $25,000, according to court documents.
Bratzler was later confirmed dead by the La Plata County coroner, court documents say.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 8 at the La Plata County Courthouse.
“The District Attorney’s Office wants to thank the Colorado State Patrol for a thorough and excellent investigation,” Murray said in an email to The Durango Herald. “We arrived at a plea deal that was meant to keep the community safe and ensure justice for the victims and for Mr. Jobe. We hope that this outcome can provide some small measure of closure and comfort for the Bratzler family.”