Driver sentenced to probation for fatal Taos crash

A 27-year-old man will serve 4 1/2 years probation for his role in a fatal motor vehicle collision.

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A 27-year-old man will serve 4 1/2 years probation for his role in a fatal motor vehicle collision.

Gareth Blair Harrold entered a plea of guilty to one count of vehicular homicide Tuesday (Oct. 14).

The local resident was indicted after drunkenly crashing a Subaru Forester into a Chevrolet Monte Carlo at the intersection of Camino de la Merced and Salazar Road March 23, 2013. A passenger in the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Anthony Gutiérrez, 67, was killed in the collision. The vehicle’s driver, Peter J. Mondragón, 58, was also charged in connection with the incident.

Mondragón entered pleas of guilty to his fifth and sixth charges of driving while intoxicated Aug. 12. Mondragón was sentenced to approximately two years in prison.

Eighth Judicial District Court Judge Sarah Backus said she was not initially inclined to accept the plea agreement Harrold’s attorneys reached with prosecutors. The judge indicated she was swayed by Harrold’s commitment to sobriety as well as support the agreement received from prosecutor’s and the victim’s family.

A local reverend and counselor as well as Harrold’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor addressed the court during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing. Harrold completed an alcohol treatment program shortly after the collision and has become a leader of local AA groups, they said. Though his driver’s license was not suspended, they added he has not driven a vehicle since the collision.

Harrold also addressed the court, apologizing to the Gutiérrez family and stating his commitment to “help and serve Taos.”

“I hope I will not be judged by this incident alone,” he told the court.

Harrold has been under house arrest for the last 18 months, for which he was given credit under the plea agreement.

The plea agreement resolved a civil lawsuit filed by the wife of Anthony Gutiérrez. It also followed motions by Harrold’s attorneys, Dan Cron and Kitren Fischer, calling for the suppression of certain evidence due to what they argued was their client’s unconstitutional arrest and unlawful detention.

Cron suggested during Tuesday’s hearing issues regarding Harrold’s Miranda rights and an investigation into the crash could have undermined the case had it proceeded to trial.

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