Former police officer sentenced to 72 years for DUI double fatality

Paul ShockleyGrand Junction CorrespondentGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GRAND JUNCTION – Patrick Strawmatt saved a life after a traffic accident during his days working for the Lafayette Police Department.Attorneys for the 43-year-old Westminster man submitted facts from the accident on Friday as Strawmatt was sent to prison for driving drunk and taking two lives.”You knew what the dangers were and that you should have pulled over once those lights went on behind you,” District Judge Brian Flynn said.”You murdered two young people.”In an emotion-packed hearing Friday morning, Flynn sentenced Strawmatt to 72 years in prison for the March 22 drunk driving deaths of Jake Brock and Jennifer Kois, both 19-year-old Mesa State College students.The term was the maximum available to the judge under a plea agreement struck last week.Strawmatt’s two murder counts were dropped, canceling a trial that had been scheduled for December.”We thank Mr. Strawmatt for pleading guilty and not putting us through something we could not handle,” said Vern Brock, Eagle resident and father of Jake Brock.Strawmatt could be eligible to go before the state’s parole board after his 91st birthday. David Eisner, Strawmatt’s attorney, noted his client is a diabetic who’s had three heart attacks.”The reality is his life expectancy is less than his parole eligibility date,” Eisner told the judge.Strawmatt on the night of March 22 was driving westbound in a Toyota 4Runner on Interstate 70, weaving and hitting the median while creeping at 30 mph.When a Colorado State Patrol trooper tried to pull him over, Strawmatt made an obscene hand gesture and sped away.Two miles later, he slammed into the back of a Saturn occupied by Kois and Brock.Strawmatt’s blood alcohol level was .290 – three times the legal limit in Colorado. He swore and spat at rescue personnel at the scene.A month prior to the fatal wreck, Strawmatt was jailed in Park County after allegedly punching Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener and ramming his car during a traffic stop.Strawmatt walked out of the Park County Jail the next day after posting a $15,000 bond set by Magistrate Larry Allen – the judge didn’t include a restriction against driving.Vern Brock wondered what might have been different.”As an educated man, I believe (Allen) could have made a better decision although he’s not to blame,” Brock told the judge.”He should have some shame. But maybe I don’t understand the system.”

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