The two men facing charges in the hit-and-run death of a Durango firefighter in August entered guilty pleas Thursday in 6th Judicial District Court.
Lorenzo Jones, 20, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide-DUI, a class 3 felony, in a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. Jones was driving alone when he struck and killed Scott Gallagher shortly after 2 a.m. Aug. 7.
Gallagher, a fire training captain with the Durango Fire Protection District, was riding a bicycle in the 900 block of Florida Road when Jones hit him. The impact sent Gallagher’s bicycle under the grill of Jones’ vehicle and Gallagher through the front windshield on the passenger side.
Tremon Rice, 23, pleaded guilty to accessory to the crime of vehicular homicide-DUI for aiding Jones in leaving the scene of the crime and later attempting to cover up Jones’ involvement. Rice appeared before the court immediately after Jones.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Suzanne Carlson read a summary of events leading up to, following and including the death of Gallagher.
A group that included both Jones and Rice had been drinking at a couple of downtown Durango bars before the incident. They had also been drinking from a bottle in Rice’s car, Carlson said. They left downtown and eventually drove in two cars, reaching speeds of 50-plus mph on Florida Road en route to Rice’s apartment. Jones was following closely behind Rice when Rice swerved to avoid hitting Gallagher and Jones then struck him.
The men are scheduled for sentencing July 21.
Jones faces a “presumptive” range of imprisonment of four to 12 years in the department of corrections. “Extraordinary mitigating” circumstances could reduce that amount to two years, while “extraordinary aggravating” circumstances could increase the sentence to 16 years. Any prison time would be followed by three years of parole. And he could face fines ranging from $3,000 to $750,000.
Rice faces a presumptive range of imprisonment of one to three years in the department of corrections, which could be reduced to six months or increased to six years based on mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Any prison time would be followed by two years of parole. He could face fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000.
The men made their pleas in front of a small but packed courtroom, which included family and friends of Gallagher, some of whom choked off sobs and cried during Carlson’s summation of events the night Gallagher was killed.