In a surprise move Tuesday, Alden House of Towaoc pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide during a motions hearing in District Court in Cortez.
Judge Todd Plewe of the 22nd Judicial District Court, tentatively accepted the guilty plea. If it stands, remaining charges against House will be dropped.
“If the court accepts the plea, which it tentatively has, the defendant will simply be entering a conviction to that charge, and the remaining counts will be dismissed as part of the plea,” District Attorney Matt Margeson said.
House had been scheduled for a five-day trial on charges of causing a fatal crash in September 2021 on U.S. Highway 160/491 about 5½ miles south of Cortez . According to an arrest affidavit, he attempted to make a left turn into Eagle Claw Liquor & Gifts and collided with a southbound Ford F-150.
The collision killed House’s passenger, Robin Frost.
According to the crash report, Frost was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, and House was not. The passengers in the pickup truck included two children, ages 5 and 2, who were not seriously injured.
When House was taken to the hospital, Colorado State Patrol officers reported noticing a strong odor of alcohol on him. Empty alcohol containers were found in his vehicle.
Vehicular homicide is a Class 3 felony in the state of Colorado, and House faces a sentence of up to 14 years in prison.
“The normal sentencing range for a third-degree felony is up to 12 years in the Department of Corrections,” Margeson said. “There are aggravating circumstances in this case such that he could receive up to 14 years. There is a minimum on the plea that says he cannot receive less than 10 years.”
A sentencing hearing has been set for June 21.