Vehicular homicide suspect allowed to drive
By MIKE WIGGINS The Daily Sentinel
Friday, February 23, 2007
A judge ruled Thursday that a Fruita man charged with killing a woman in a drunken-driving accident a year ago can drive his vehicle, lifting a restriction normally imposed in vehicular homicide cases.
Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley told 24-year-old Jade Huskey he can drive to and from work and classes at Mesa State College but must pay for the installation of an interlock device in his truck. The device, which Huskey must blow into each time he drives, will detect whether there is any alcohol in his system. If there is, his truck will not start because the device is connected to the ignition system.
The ruling came after defense attorney Gordon Gallagher filed a motion asking Gurley to modify Huskey’s bond conditions.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret objected to allowing Huskey to drive, saying bond conditions exist to protect the community and that a no-driving condition is standard in vehicular homicide cases. She said Huskey’s blood-alcohol level was 0.26 at the time of the accident, more than three times the legal limit for drivers in Colorado, and that he was driving more than 100 mph when the accident happened.
Gallagher, though, said no-driving conditions should be considered on a case-by-case basis. He noted Huskey has no prior criminal history, has been cooperative with police and is reporting to the Mesa County Criminal Justice Services Department for alcohol tests.
“These are serious allegations, but they are only allegations at this point,” Gurley said.
Huskey is charged with killing 35-year-old Molly Gomez of Grand Junction in a car accident west of the city on Feb. 25, 2006. Colorado State Patrol investigators initially believed Gomez was driving the vehicle, but after further investigation concluded Huskey was driving.
According to court records, the position of the driver’s seat and damage to the steering wheel were consistent with someone Huskey’s height and weight driving the vehicle, not Gomez.
Investigators also said they found red or pink fibers imbedded in the steering wheel that were consistent with the color of the shirt Huskey was wearing the night of the accident.
Surveillance video from a Fruita liquor store Huskey and Gomez visited shortly before the accident showed Huskey getting out of and into the driver’s seat of the car, according to court records.
Huskey told investigators immediately after the accident he didn’t even remember being in the vehicle at the time of the accident but admitted he had drunk too much alcohol, according to court records.
Huskey, who has been charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and single counts of criminally negligent homicide, driving under the influence of alcohol and reckless driving, will return to court March 20.
He is free from the Mesa County Jail on $50,000 bond.
Mike Wiggins can be reached via e-mail at mwiggins@gjds. com.