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Trial for man accused of killing cyclist Ben Sonntag delayed

Prosecutors, defense both raise concerns over COVID-19 pandemic
Schneider

The trial for a La Plata County man accused of striking and killing professional cyclist Benjamin Sonntag was delayed until March because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cordell Schneider, who was 19 at the time, was supposed to start a trial in November.

But both the prosecution and Schneider’s defense attorney asked about the trial be delayed because of various concerns related to the pandemic.

Joel Fry, Schneider’s defense attorney, said the pandemic would likely result in fewer people showing up for jury duty.

“I’d like to have a jury panel representative of the community,” he said.

Sixth Judicial Deputy District Attorney David Ottman, prosecuting the case, said Sonntag’s family in Germany and Sweden is unable to travel to the U.S. during the pandemic.

“(The District Attorney’s Office) appreciates the need for the family to want to be here in person and attend the trial,” Ottman said.

District Judge Todd Norvell, overseeing the case, rescheduled the five-day trial for March 22, 2021.

Authorities say Schneider was driving a pickup truck on County Road 105 in western La Plata County around noon March 4 when he struck and killed Sonntag, who was riding his bike at the time.

An investigation into the crash found Schneider was traveling an estimated 65 mph in a 35 mph zone when he lost control of the truck, struck Sonntag and then went down a steep embankment before hitting a tree and coming to rest.

Schneider was charged with vehicular homicide, a Class 4 felony, and reckless driving.

On July 17, Schneider pleaded not guilty.

jromeo@durangoherald.com

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