JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — The man on trial for a drunken driving crash that killed a young woman on her way home from church will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Todd Grudznske was charged with 13 separate counts -- including first-degree murder -- for the Sept. 30, 2018 crash. He was found guilty of all of them Thursday following more than a day of deliberations by a Jefferson County jury.
The first-degree murder with extreme indifference charge is a rare one in DUI cases. 9Wants to Know analyzed state data and found that Grudznske is only the ninth person involved a fatal DUI crash to receive this count. None of the others were convicted.
The murder conviction means that Grudznske will be sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. He was behind the wheel after multiple prior DUIs.
In court, he apologized and said he would dedicate the rest of his life behind bars to preventing drunk driving. He said that if he could give his life so the victim could live, he would.
Prosecutors allege that Grudznske drank at least nine shots of hard liquor and four beers in the hours before the wreck, which happened at West Colfax Avenue and Kipling Street in Lakewood.
After a morning of bar-hopping, prosecutors claim that the 47-year-old roared down Kipling in his full-size pickup and slammed into Angela Wimmer’s Mazda while she was waiting at a red light.
The 25-year-old’s car was hurled into a 44 mph spin, starting a chain-reaction crash that involved three other vehicles. Wimmer later died at the hospital.
Grudznske had a blood-alcohol level of .341 about an hour after the crash – a number that’s more than four times the point at which a motorist is considered intoxicated under Colorado law.
During his trial, Grudznske’s defense team has admitted their client was drunk and behind the wheel during the crash. However, his attorney Sean Paris said during opening arguments this does not rise to the level of first-degree murder.
Grudznske has multiple previous DUIs, according to the charging documents in the case. His first was in 2000, and his most recent was in 2007 – before Colorado enacted its 2015 law that automatically makes a fourth DUI a felony.
In addition to first-degree murder, Grudznske was also found guilty of:
- Two counts of vehicular homicide and one count of first-degree assault in Wimmer's death.
- Three counts of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first-degree assault, naming the other three motorists who were injured.
- Felony DUI -- he had six previous drunken driving convictions on his record.
- Violation of a protection order, issued in a domestic violence case, which prohibited him from drinking.
- Reckless driving.
Sentencing is slated for Aug. 14 at 1 p.m.
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