Early on the morning of August 21, 2014, my son, Nicholas, was riding his motorcycle to work in Colorado Springs. As he came to the intersection of Hwy 24 and 31st Street, Joseph Sevilla took an illegal left turn in his SUV, directly in front of Nick, who was killed on impact at the age of 22.
Sevilla admitted to the State Trooper at the scene that morning that he did not have a driver’s license due to numerous DUI convictions. Nevertheless, he was not tested for drugs or alcohol at the scene. The coroner testified at trial that neither drugs nor alcohol contributed to the crash, on Nick’s part. We will never know if it did on the part of the killer, and if it did, he will not be held accountable for it, at least not while on this earth.
During the investigation we learned that Sevilla had numerous prior DUI and DWAI convictions, as well as several DUI and DWAI charges that had been dismissed in plea bargains. His driver’s license had been “permanently” revoked in 1989 due to the multiple DUIs, driving under revocation, and habitual offender convictions. It remained revoked until after Nick was killed. He also had been convicted of possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute as well as other felonies.
The killer was not charged with vehicular homicide or manslaughter. As I understand it, because he was not found to be under the influence and he did not leave the scene, those charges did not apply. He was eventually convicted of failure to yield, careless driving resulting in death and driving after license revocation. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail (he got out early), 425 days of work release (also reduced), and 2 years of probation (unsupervised). His license was then reinstated.
We were devastated by the minimal charges and that his actions were not considered to be reckless, which would also have elevated the charges from a mere misdemeanor to a felony homicide.
Colorado’s judicial system failed to provide justice in this case. To ensure Nick has not died in vain, we propose two changes to Colorado’s DUI laws:
- Any driver involved in a fatal crash shall be subjected to testing for drugs and alcohol as soon after the crash as possible, and
- Driving under revocation for prior DUIs or being a habitual offender shall be classified as an aggravating factor in vehicular deaths, elevating the charge to vehicular homicide.
Debby Standard, Nick’s mother