In 2003, Colorado prosecutor Mark Hulbert gained notoriety with his prosecution of Kobe Bryant on rape charges which never went to trial because of the refusal of the victim to testify. Now the DA for Eagle County is defending his decision to drop a felony charge against a Denver money manager accused of driving his Mercedes into a bicycle-riding transplant surgeon and then fleeing the scene.
District Attorney Hurlbert reportedly told the Vail Daily last week that a felony charge could affect the suspect’s job, and that in turn could affect his ability to pay restitution to the victim. The defendant, Martin Joel Erzinger, is a financial adviser with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Denver. Rather than being charged with a felony for his vehicular hit-and-run, he now faces two misdemeanor charges even thought the victim now suffers spinal cord injuries and disabling.
The cyber-blogs are ablaze with condemnation as are cycling advocates. Now Hurlbert is telling ABC News and the Huffington Post that his decision to drop the felony charge was not based on Erzinger’s wealth or occupation but upon the evidence. Hurlbert said that he offered a misdemeanor plea bargain because it is more of a sure thing and has the potential for two years of jail time. The felony option, Hurlbert said, would have deferred judgment and the charge would have been dropped after a few years of good behavior.
Sounds like the New York doctor, who was the victim, isn’t the only one who desperately began back pedaling when confronted by Erzinger.