Sentence handed out for drunk driver who killed Army veteran
"Our laws need to change to reflect the reality that drunk drivers that kill people must go to prison."
District Attorney George Brauchler with the 18th Judicial District delivered a stern message to the public on Thursday nearly six years to the day a drunk driver killed an Afghanistan war veteran. A Monument man found out he is going to jail, not prison, for hitting and killing a former Fort Carson soldier then fleeing the scene.
A Douglas County District judge sentenced Daniel Swecker, 47, to 180 days in jail and four years of probation in the death of Nelson Marvin Canada.
“I respect the court and the process the court employed, but I respectfully and strongly disagree with the decision,” said District Attorney George Brauchler in a release. “This was a guy who was operating on his third DUI. He ran over and killed an active duty soldier, one who had survived a deployment to Afghanistan only to be run over by a repeat drunk driver. Then, Swecker fled the scene to avoid apprehension and responsibility. He never himself said he was responsible for killing this good man. Today he walked out of here not having to spend 10 seconds in prison.”
Swecker was driving drunk on I-25 in Castle Rock on Feb. 25, 2012, when he hit and killed Canada, who was 24.
Canada was a passenger in a vehicle with a driver who he believed was intoxicated. Canada got the driver to stop so Canada, who was sober, could take the wheel.
Swecker hit Canada, who was in the right lane. Swecker walked away from the scene, leaving Canada’s body in the roadway.
A jury on May 27, 2014, found Swecker guilty of vehicular homicide DUI and leaving the scene of a deadly accident. On July 11, 2014, a judge sentenced Swecker to six years in prison but ruled he could stay out on bond while he appealed his conviction.
Swecker’s appeals were denied all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Every step of the way, the defendant avoided taking any responsibility for his conduct. He blamed the victims and the way the road was built and the lab that tested his blood, but a jury of Douglas County citizens didn’t buy it,” said Senior Deputy District Attorney Chris Wilcox, who prosecuted the case. “Their verdict still speaks loud and clear: He drove drunk and killed a father and husband in our community.”
Swecker’s motion to have his sentence reconsidered was granted, and a hearing was held Jan. 18. On Thursday, the judge issued her decision. Swecker received 90 days jail on each count of which he was found guilty, to be served consecutively. He must report to jail March 5. He was also sentenced to four years of probation. The original sentence is suspended, pending successful completion of probation.
“If the public needed another example of what is wrong with our law when it comes to vehicular homicide and DUI, here it is,” Brauchler said. “No person on their third DUI who runs over and kills a person and flees the scene should ever avoid prison. Colorado’s laws on vehicular homicide are weak, and this is proof of it.”