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Man who killed Colo. officer in hit-and-run crash sentenced to 24 years in prison

“The impact [Alexis Hein-Nutz] had on this community stretched past being a cop,” a fellow officer stated. “She was a public servant. The community was robbed”


“I cry every day for her and this family’s loss,” her mother, Tammy, said. “It’s heartbreaking as a wife and mother to see my husband and daughter suffer and be able to do nothing. I feel like I was robbed of not only my daughter but also my joy.”

Weld County Sheriff’s Office Facebook

By Chris Bolin
Greeley Tribune, Colo.

GREELEY, Colo. — A man who hit and killed a Weld County sheriff’s deputy in September 2022 while she was riding a motorcycle to work will spend up to 24 years behind bars.

Judge Timothy Kerns sentenced 37-year-old Norberto Garcia-Gonzales to 24 years in prison — the maximum sentence for fleeing the scene of a crash involving death. Garcia-Gonzales — who is in the country illegally — will also face deportation after serving the sentence.

“Due to your unwillingness to engage with lawful orders and the circumstances of the events that led to your conviction, I find that 24 years in the Department of Corrections is reasonable and just,” Kerns said Friday afternoon.

Garcia-Gonzales was originally charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death, careless driving, failure to yield right of way, driving under restraint for an alcohol-related offense and obstructing a peace officer. He pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a crash involving death, a Class 3 felony, in November. The rest of the charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Garcia-Gonzales pulled out in front of 24-year-old Alexis Hein-Nutz on Sept. 18, 2022, as she was driving a motorcycle southbound on Weld County Road 37.

Garcia-Gonzales’ vehicle was stopped at a stop sign heading west on AA Street. He inched into an intersection as Hein-Nutz approached from Weld 37 — which does not have a stop sign.

After the vehicles collided, Garcia-Gonzales fled the scene into a cornfield on foot, according to a witness. Hein-Nutz was declared dead at the scene, just one week shy of her 25th birthday.

Police took Garcia-Gonzales into custody the next night in Fort Collins.

He was expected to be drunk at the time of the crash. Police found a case of Modelo in the van he was driving — including an open bottle in the center console.

Garcia-Gonzales had previously been convicted of driving under the influence after two separate crashes in 2011 and 2013, the latter also being a hit-and-run.

“I simply do not have the confidence that the imposition of a sentence focused on rehabilitation will result in any reception by you,” Kerns said. “That hasn’t happened in the past dozen years.”

Hein-Nutz’s family, as well as several former colleagues, spoke Friday in front of a courtroom packed with several dozen law enforcement officers from the Weld County Sheriff’s Office, Loveland Police Department and Colorado State Patrol.

Hein-Nutz was a member of the Loveland Police Department’s Explorers program before joining the Weld County Sheriff’s Office in 2018.

Her family, most of whom spoke through tears, reminisced on the time they had with her and stressed the toll Garcia-Gonzales’ actions had taken on their family.

“I cry every day for her and this family’s loss,” her mother, Tammy, said. “It’s heartbreaking as a wife and mother to see my husband and daughter suffer and be able to do nothing. I feel like I was robbed of not only my daughter but also my joy.”

Hein-Nutz’s former coworkers talked about not only the impact she had on them but also on the people in custody at the jail with whom she worked every day.

Weld County Jail Captain Matt Turner highlighted a letter a particular inmate wrote to Hein-Nutz’s family after her death. The letter talked about how grateful he was to have known her and how much of an impact she had on his day-to-day life.

“I never expected this man to write a letter like that,” Turner said. “The impact she had on this community stretched past being a cop. She was a public servant. The community was robbed.”

Nearly everyone who spoke pleaded for Kerns to hand down the maximum sentence of 24 years.

“There is no place for (Garcia-Gonzales) in civilized society,” Weld County Sheriff Steve Reams said. “No punishment seems fair. Nothing can bring Alexis back.”

Chief Deputy Attorney Michael Pirraglia also petitioned for the maximum sentence, arguing the aggravating circumstances surrounding the case — particularly Garcia-Gonzales’ criminal history and disregard for punishment — more than justified 24 years.

After Garcia-Gonzales’ second DUI, he agreed to voluntarily depart the country to avoid deportation. Instead, he changed his name and obtained documents under the name Octavio Gonzales-Garcia — a name he initially gave police when he was taken into custody for killing Hein-Hutz.

“At age 16, he moved to the United States, and since then, he’s used aliases and other government documents to obtain employment and avoid arrest,” Pirraglia said. “He deserves the full sentence so he can experience the full consequences.”

Public Defender John Walsh cited several local cases — including the cases of Shawn Howard and Veronica Sanchez — in which he argued the circumstances were more aggravated and the defendants received sentences ranging from eight to 12 years.

“I’d like to respectfully remind the court, especially in cases like this it is important to temper both public outrage and public pain by issuing a sentence that is just and treats everyone the same,” Walsh said.

Garcia-Gonzales, in a statement read by an interpreter, stressed that the crash was not intentional and expressed remorse for what he did.

“I want to apologize again to the family, the police, the community for having fled,” he said. “I can’t fix what I did, but I can assume responsibility for my actions, and I hope that allows the family to begin to heal.”

Garcia-Gonzales was credited 481 days off his sentence for time served.


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