Tinner sentencing hearing set for April 21 in Pitkin County Court
A county judge set a sentencing hearing April 21 for the Basalt woman responsible for a head-on collision that killed a 21-year-old college student last summer.
Christine Tinner, 47, was supposed to be sentenced last week, but broke down in Friday’s court hearing and was sent to the hospital. Pitkin County Judge Erin Fernandez-Ely said she would not sentence the defendant without her present. Last week’s hearing was held Thursday and Friday.
“At this point, Ms. Tinner is out of the hospital under 24 hours care,” said Tinner’s attorney, Dan Shipp. “At this point she would be clear for the next available sentencing hearing to the court.”
Last month, Tinner pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of careless driving causing death and careless driving causing injury.
Surviving relatives of Meleyna Kistner, as well as her boyfriend Daniel Thul, who survived the crash, have expressed frustrations with the investigation into the accident. On Aug. 23, Kistner was driving Thul’s 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier, south of Carbondale on Highway 133, when Tinner’s Honda hatchback crossed the center line. Kistner and Thul, who are from Illinois, were on a trip through the West.
Kistner immediately died upon impact, authorities said. Both Thul and Tinner were hospitalized with injuries, from which they are both recovering. Thul almost lost a foot; Tinner broke a leg.
The sentencing process has presented a dilemma for the judge, who has said in court that she is trying to find a form of justice that will be satisfactory to the survivors and honor Kistner.
Tinner faces up to one year in jail, but Fernandez-Ely has said she doesn’t believe that will achieve the desired effect.
Family members have said that Tinner should have faced more severe charges, such as vehicular homicide.
Tinner, who teaches English as a second language at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen, could be ordered to perform public service at the jail. That service would be teaching English to non-English speaking inmates at the jail, Fernandez-Ely said Tuesday.
Kistner and Thul’s family have been outspoken about changing state law so mandatory drug and alcohol tests are administered on all drivers involved in traffic accidents resulting in death or injury.
The Colorado State Patrol performed alcohol and drug tests performed on Kistner and Thul after the accident. Both tested negative for any substances.
Tinner was not tested because the State Patrol said it did not have probable cause. A subsequent lab test at Valley View Hospital, taken about 90 minutes after the wreck, yielded negative results for alcohol.
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