Detlefs pleads guilty to vehicular assault in SUV-bicycle crash

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Plea bargain entails possible jail time

By The Staff

Jeffrey Detlefs told a judge in his first court appearance Jan. 7 that he doesn’t remember anything about the accident Aug. 16 in which the Lexus SUV he was driving hit a cyclist on the eastbound ramp of Evergreen Parkway at Interstate 70.

Nevertheless, the Evergreen resident agreed to plead guilty to one count of vehicular assault while driving under the influence of alcohol, leaving the scene of an accident causing serious injury, and one count of child abuse.

He originally was charged with one count of vehicular assault-DUI and was arrested at the time on suspicion of driving drunk. He failed a voluntary roadside sobriety test, according to the affidavit for a search warrant.

Sentencing was set for 8 a.m. April 9. Based on the plea-agreement document in the case file, Detlefs will receive a six-year prison sentence, which will be reconsidered after 120 days and changed to 10 years of probation. But if he violates probation, his full sentence would be re-imposed.

Conditions of probation will include no drinking, no driving and a monitoring unit the first year. Driving privileges can be reinstated during the 10-year probationary period but only with the explicit agreement of the victim, Rex Hegyi.

Detlefs, 57, was hospitalized for a minor stroke the weekend the accident occurred. At the time, he was working as an attorney in Denver.

Hegyi was seriously injured and was airlifted to St. Anthony Central in Denver, where he was in intensive care for several days.

The special prosecutor, Adrienne Greene of the Denver district attorney’s office, told District Judge Jane Tidball that Detlefs had reached a plea bargain in which he agreed to plead guilty to two felony charges and one misdemeanor in exchange for not going to trial. Three of the charges, including eluding a police officer, also would be dismissed.

Detlefs’ blood-alcohol level tested at 0.301 after the accident, Greene said in court.

Ordinarily, Detlefs would be subject to prosecution by Jeffco authorities, but Hegyi is a public defender who works at the Jeffco courthouse, so a special prosecutor was appointed.

Hegyi could not be reached through the public defender’s office.

If Detlefs were to be found guilty at trial, he would be subject to a sentence of two to six years in jail on the first count alone.

The prosecutor said Detlefs left the scene of the accident, returned briefly and then left again.

Tidball asked if Detlefs agreed with the circumstances as they were stated and he said, “I don’t have any recollection. All I know is what I read in the reports.”

He pleaded guilty to three of the seven counts against him. The counts of vehicular assault/reckless driving and eluding police would be dismissed under the plea agreement. Three counts of child abuse/reckless endangerment were reduced to one count of child abuse.

Evidence in the arrest warrant showed that Hegyi was riding his bicycle east on the shoulder and was struck from behind by a vehicle, causing the bicycle and rider to be thrown east. The bicycle broke apart on impact, according to the arrest affidavit compiled by Trooper Kirk M. Firko, who responded to the accident.

A bicycle brake caliper was later found lodged in the front bumper of the Lexus.

The investigator who interviewed Detlefs’ three children said the children told him that prior to the crash, Detlefs had three minor collisions with trees and a trashcan in the driveway of their home.

After the crash with the bicyclist, they urged their father to return to the scene, which he did briefly. He then again left the scene.

Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-350-1042. Check www.CanyonCourier.com for updates.