‘Ongoing investigations’ stall plea in Glenwood Springs vehicular homicide case | PostIndependent.com

‘Ongoing investigations’ stall plea in Glenwood Springs vehicular homicide case

A plea deal in the case of a man accused of causing the death of a Glenwood Springs woman in a crash on Colorado Highway 82 outside Glenwood last December is on hold pending follow-up investigations by prosecutors.

Juan Escobar Rosales, 23, appeared before Garfield District Judge John Neiley via video from the Garfield County Jail Thursday afternoon expecting to enter a plea.

Escobar Rosales was allegedly high on methamphetamine and driving a stolen vehicle when he caused a rear-end crash around 8 a.m. Dec. 30, 2020 as eastbound motorists were stopped for the traffic light at the CMC Road/County Road 154 intersection.

Diane Olson, 57, of Glenwood Springs, died at the hospital the following day of injuries sustained in the crash.

Juan Escobar Rosales (Colorado State Patrol photo)

Escobar is charged with felony vehicular homicide, aggravated motor vehicle theft, driving while under the influence of drugs, vehicular assault and theft, plus misdemeanor traffic violations.

At the Thursday plea hearing, attorneys in the case referred to “ongoing investigations” involving phone communications between Escobar and a local business while he was in custody.

Public defender Alex Haynes said the information could potentially help his client’s situation.

“Mr. Escobar is ready to plead, he wants to plead, and he knows what he wants to plead to,” Haynes informed the judge.

Haynes requested that the plea hearing be continued to Dec. 23 so he can fully communicate what’s happening in the case to Escobar.

The anticipated plea should proceed at that time, Haynes said.

“I am genuinely impressed by (Escobar’s) patience at this point, and he wants to do what’s best,” Haynes said.

Deputy Ninth District Attorney James Stone confirmed that the DA’s Office is waiting for cell phone records, including interpretation of 12 phone calls from the jail to a local place of business. Neither Haynes nor Stone revealed the nature of the phone calls, but Stone agreed to the continuance.

According to Colorado State Patrol reports, Escobar’s Chevrolet truck slammed into the rear of Olson’s Buick sedan as she was stopped in traffic at the red light. A passenger in her vehicle was also seriously injured.

Escobar was arrested several weeks later after an extensive State Patrol investigation into the incident.

Escobar is a Salvadoran national, according to court records. He has remained in the Garfield County Jail on an immigration hold since his Jan. 27 arrest.

Following the crash, according to court documents, Escobar said in interviews with the State Patrol that he didn’t see that traffic was stopped because of sun glare, although he said he was going about 5 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

He was initially released on a summons for careless driving causing injury and no valid driver’s license, but information later came forward that the truck he was driving had been stolen from a Glenwood Springs business.

In follow-up interviews, Escobar allegedly admitted he had taken the truck the night of Dec. 24, 2020, when he found it unlocked and the keys inside, according to court documents.

Escobar also allegedly admitted to using methamphetamine the morning of the crash, and that he had sold tools and ladders that were in the truck for drug money.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

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