Alden P. House of Towaoc was sentenced Tuesday in Montezuma County District Court to 14 years in the Department of Corrections for vehicular homicide causing the death of his passenger, Robin Frost.
According to police and court records, on Sept. 13, House was driving north on U.S. Highway 160/491 south of Cortez in a blue Hyundai when he attempted to make a left turn into a liquor store and was struck by a southbound truck.
Frost died at the scene of the crash, and the driver of the truck was injured.
House, 40, was charged with vehicular homicide, vehicular assault DUI. He had a blood alcohol content of 0.185, said District Attorney Matt Margeson. The legal limit is 0.05.
In a plea agreement May 31, House pleaded guilty to felony vehicular homicide, and the other charges were dismissed. He initially pleaded not guilty, and the case was set for trial.
The maximum 14-year sentence, plus five years of parole, was handed down by District Judge Todd Plewe.
“I need to punish you appropriately and protect the community from you causing harm again. I can act for society to impose a sentence that is just,” he said Tuesday.
Plewe said an aggravating factor for the maximum sentence was that House was on parole for a trespass conviction in 2020 that included jail time.
House has been held at the Montezuma County Detention Center since the collision.
Margeson recommended the maximum sentence. He noted House’s criminal history, which includes a second-degree murder conviction in 2000 in federal court.
House was one of two people charged by a federal grand jury with second-degree murder for the beating death of Ritche Clark in 1999 in Towaoc. House pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 11 years in prison. He was a minor at the time of the offense and was tried as an adult.
Frost’s family and friends testified at the hearing.
They described Frost as a kind and generous woman who was a foundation in the family.
“She was my first. My daughter had a kind heart,” said Lori Frost. “Having her taken like that rips my soul apart. I’m crushed. This emptiness will always be here.”
Robin Frost had a close relationship with her nieces and nephews. She helped to take care of them, took them on outings, and they miss her, friends and family said.
One told of growing up with Frost and how she loved to sing in the choir. Frost worked as a shuttle driver for the Ute Mountain Casino and Hotel and at the Ute Mountain Housing Authority.
“She would always be willing to help others. She had a big heart,” a friend said in a statement read to the court.
“She had so much potential. Now, that is a dream she will never wake up from,” said her aunt, Mary Silas.
House did not make a statement during sentencing.
He accepts accountability for his actions, said his lawyer, Kellan Schmelz, who recommended a 10-year sentence.
Frost was his (House’s) closest friend, Schmelz said. “He is devastated.”