Drunk driver who fatally hit an Army veteran on his third DUI gets a shamefully short sentence

Repeated drunk driver is sentenced to 180 days in jail six years after killing an Army veteran on his third DUI. (18th District Attorney's Office, Colorado)

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A repeat Colorado drunk driver will spend just 180 days in jail after fatally striking an Army and Afghanistan war veteran nearly six years ago.

In May 2014, Daniel Barrett Swecker, 47, was found guilty of vehicular homicide, DUI and leaving the scene of a crash involving death and was sentenced to six years in prison. However, he filed an appeal in the case and remained free on bond until he was re-sentenced this week. In addition to the six months in jail, he will also serve four years on probation.

On February 25, 2012, Swecker hit 24-year-old Nelson Marvin Canada while driving 80 mph, throwing him 124 feet. After hitting him, Swecker exited his vehicle, walked a mile to a gas station and called his wife, who drove him back to the scene of the crime. Nearly two hours after the incident, his blood alcohol level was at .118 in a state with a legal limit of .08, making it his third DUI.

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In court, the judge indicated that Swecker had earned the privilege of probation because he had stayed sober and worked on bettering himself and his community during his appeal.

“We’re happy with the consideration the judge gave to the unique circumstances of this case to the realities of what a great man, veteran, husband, father Mr. Swecker is, what he’s given back to the community,” his attorney said. “I think in a really tragic case for everybody, there was justice served.”

veteran killed in DUI accident
Drunk driver sentenced to just 180 days in jail after fatally hitting an Army veteran. (18th District Attorney’s Office, Colorado)

District Attorney George Brauchler, however, was not pleased with the sentence and believes Swecker should serve a longer sentence, adding that he’s “completely frustrated with a system and a set of laws that can allow someone to run over and kill one of our veterans.”

“I respect the court and the process the court employed, but I respectfully and strongly disagree with the decision,” he told reporters on Thursday. “He ran over and killed an active-duty soldier, one who had survived a deployment to Afghanistan only to be run over by a repeat drunk driver.”

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“If the public needed another example of what is wrong with our law when it comes to vehicular homicide and DUI, here it is,” he continued. “No person on their third DUI who runs over and kills a person and flees the scene should ever avoid prison. Colorado’s laws on vehicular homicide are weak, and this is proof of it.”

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