Driver pleads guilty in CSP trooper's death

Posted at 8:14 AM, May 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-19 00:04:44-04

The retired Army Colonel accused of hitting and killing a Colorado State Trooper while driving drunk pleaded guilty to two felonies Wednesday.

Ret. Col. Eric Henderson pleaded guilty to class 3 felony vehicular homicide and class 6 felony tampering with evidence.  One felony and two misdemeanors were dropped in the plea agreement.  

Henderson wiped away tears as the judge affirmed his plea, Denver7 Reporter Mark Boyle said.

Henderson faces anywhere from six months to 13 years behind bars upon sentencing, however neither charge carries mandatory jail time. He is currently out on bond.

Henderson didn't comment for the media when leaving the courtroom, but his attorneys did speak on his behalf.

"He is a good man and a tragic thing happened and I think we have to remember that there is just tragedy all around and he’s trying to take steps to start the healing process for his family and for her family,” said Lisa Moses, Henderson's defense attorney.

"It’s a tragic accident for both families and that’s important that we both remember that two families really are losing out here and I think it’s important that we begin the process of healing for both families and that’s really what we started today,” said Chris Samuelson, who's also representing Henderson.  

Trooper Jaimie Jursevics, 33, was investigating a minor crash with another trooper near Plum Creek Parkway in Castle Rock in November 2015 when she was informed by dispatchers about a possible drunk driver in a pickup truck headed toward her.

Jursevics called the driver who reported the suspected drunk driver. The caller was still following the driver and told Jursevics he could see the lights on her vehicle as they approached her, according to an affidavit about Henderson's arrest.

"(The caller) could see the female trooper shining a flashlight toward the ground," the affidavit stated.

The driver in the pickup did not stop and the caller reported seeing the trooper's flashlight fly through the air.

The caller was still on the phone with Jursevics and heard her scream as she was hit by the oncoming truck.

Henderson kept driving and was arrested a few miles away.

"I killed a cop," Henderson later told detectives through tears, according to the affidavit.

Prosecutors said he spent the day drinking at a Broncos game.

Prosecutor George Brauchler said after court that the tampering with evidence charge comes from obvious actions Henderson made after hitting the trooper.

"After he ran over the state trooper and left her dead in the road, he drove down the road a bit and then went through the process with his passenger of making it less likely that he would be held accountable for this crime, hiding certain pieces of evidence," said Brauchler. "There was an effort to hide the level of intoxication, the alcohol involved and frankly to drive away from the scene.” 

Brauchler also pointed at the fact that even with an air tight case, it is possible Henderson won't see any jail time.

"Let’s be candid about the weaknesses of Colorado’s law, if this guy had gone to trial and been convicted of every single charge and I have every confidence he would have been, he would still be probation eligible,” said Brauchler.  "Colorado does not mandate prison for someone who kills another person when they are behind the wheel of a car drunk.”  

A friend told investigators Henderson had at least six beers while in Denver for the team's matchup with the Chiefs, according to the affidavit.

Affidavit | Retired Army colonel arrested in death of trooper had about 7 beers at Broncos game

Henderson retired from the Army in June 2013 after a 27-year career and was the chief of operations for the Space and Missile Defense Command in his final post.

Jursevics left behind a husband and an 8-month-old daughter. 

Ret. Col. Henderson will be sentenced on June 28th.

Read previous stories about the case here.


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