BY PETER JONES
The 18-year-old Centennial man who pleaded guilty last year in connection to a car crash that killed two elderly women was sentenced March 13 to 12 years in prison.
Taden Lee Jones’s charges included two counts of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.
“This is important because every single person who kills another person when they are drunk driving should go to prison,” District Attorney George Brauchler said. “Drunk-driving fatalities are increasing across the state of Colorado every single year. Drunk driving is a serious issue in this state and this jurisdiction.”
On April 1, Jones, a 2015 Arapahoe High School graduate, was speeding down Colorado Boulevard when he changed lanes to pass a slower vehicle. The two women were trying to make a left turn from Peakview Circle when Jones slammed into their car “T-bone style,” according investigators.
Audrey Carolyn Burton, 77, and passenger, Gayle Buckwalter, 82, were both killed.
Jones’s car was carrying several other teens, one of whom suffered minor injuries.
Investigators found a fake South Carolina driver’s license in the car that falsely showed Jones as 23 years old. A sheriff’s deputy noted that Jones smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. Jones admitted to having had three beers before the crash.
Deputy District Attorney Rory Devlin had asked for a lengthy prison sentence.
“Every element here is governed by choice,” Devlin told Arapahoe District Court Judge Phillip Douglass. “… Today, he needs to become accountable, not just to himself or to the victims, but to all of us.”
In addition to Jones’s prison time, Douglass imposed five years of mandatory parole.
Family members of both victims made statements to the court.
“[Jones] freely chose to endanger the lives of innocent people. Taden is clearly a danger to society.” Beth Johnson, Burton’s oldest daughter, told the judge. “Justice must be meted out and suited to this crime.”
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