A Cortez man pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing death and driving while ability impaired Thursday afternoon in Montezuma County Court.
Amy A. Perez, 33, died on the night of Sept. 29 after falling from the roof of a moving vehicle on Colorado Highway 145, according to a Colorado State Patrol arrest affidavit. The driver of the Hyundai Sonata, Jose Alfonso Jauregui, 27, pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of leaving the scene of an accident causing death and driving while ability impaired.
Jauregui initially was charged with vehicular homicide, a Class 3 felony.
Thursday, he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident causing death. The level of felony offense, as defined by statute, is the same, according to Deputy District Attorney Will Furse. Jauregui, under a plea deal reached with the 22nd Judicial District Attorney’s Office, will receive a probationary sentence.
Chief Judge Douglas Walker, of the 22nd District, will decide the length and conditions of Jauregui’s probation. Jauregui could face up to three months in jail on that charge, irrespective of the time he has already served.
The DWAI is a traffic misdemeanor. The plea deal leaves that sentence open, meaning that Walker will examine the potential penalties and make a decision based on his perception of the facts. Jauregui could face up to six months in county jail on that charge.
Bond was reduced from $500,000 to $100,000 Thursday afternoon. Jauregui, who was born in Nevada, has no prior criminal history, according to defense attorney Emily Bolotin. He also has a wife and two children who reside in Mexico.
Relatives of Amy Perez argued that Jauregui’s bond should have been kept bond at $500,000.
“We will not have the chance to see Amy again walk free, and he will,” said Perez’s mother, Eva Martinez.
“Cortez is such a small town,” said Darryl Perez. “I’d just hate my daughters possibly seeing this guy before justice is served.”
Perez has four daughters and worked at Cricket Wireless phone company in Cortez, according to family members.
Evidence indicated that Perez was seated on the roof on the passenger side when she was ejected and landed in front of the vehicle, according to the state patrol affidavit.
Dust had been rubbed off the roof near the sunroof opening, “indicating that Amy had been seated on the roof,” the report states.
The crash occurred about 9 p.m. between Cortez and Rico on the night of Sept. 29.
Jauregui stated Perez fell forward from the sunroof when he applied the brakes. He then drove her to Southwest Memorial, according to the affidavit. Perez was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital.
However, additional evidence came to light that claims Jauregui first drove to Mancos to seek advice from his brother before continuing to the hospital with Perez, according to a report provided by Colorado State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler.
In the arrest affidavit, Jauregui is quoted as saying he was extremely intoxicated and drove very fast to get Perez to the hospital. He stated several times that he had consumed more than 12 beers.
“Jauregui has a strong odor of alcohol on his person, he had bloodshot, watery eyes. He had been crying as well. He had trouble maintaining his balance when he stood,” according to the arrest affidavit.
He initially told the State Patrol that Perez was driving and attempted to switch seats with him when she fell out of the sunroof. He later recanted that statement and said he was the driver when the incident occurred.
Jauregui said he had told a different story earlier because he was scared and an “idiot,” according to the affidavit.
Jauregui’s sentencing hearing is currently set for March 11.