In the first felony trial in Elbert County under current COVID-19 restrictions, a jury found an Elizabeth man guilty of felony DUI after deliberating about 40 minutes.
The jury of 12 found Joseph Robert Hendershott, 57, guilty of driving under the influence with 3 or more priors, a Class 4 felony; and careless driving, a Class 2 traffic offense. The trial lasted two days; the verdict was read Oct 28.
“I am pleased that our judges and criminal justice system partners continue to prove that we can pursue justice and protect constitutional rights even during a global pandemic. This community is well-served,” said District Attorney George Brauchler, who tried the case with Senior Deputy District Attorney Rory Devlin. “Here, a career drunk driver, who avoided injuring or killing an innocent person by the grace of God, received a full and fair trial and now faces a full and fair prison sentence. Nothing less will protect our community.”
On Dec. 16, 2018, Elbert County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the Walmart parking lot in Elizabeth about a possible impaired driver. Witnesses reported seeing the driver, Hendershott, drive his Ford Ranger pickup into the ditch along Colorado 86 and swerve into traffic.
Deputies observed that Hendershott has bloodshot, watery eyes and slurred speech. He was unsteady on his feet and wearing only socks. Hendershott told deputies he was on three heart medications; he refused roadside sobriety tests.
Deputies found where it appeared the truck has sideswiped a chain-link fence in the parking lot, scraping the side of the truck and knocking off the passenger side mirror.
Court records show Hendershott previously was convicted of DUI in 2002 in Douglas County, in 2004 in Elbert County, in 2007 in Douglas County, and in 2008 in South Dakota.
Sentencing is set before Elbert County District Court Judge Gary Kramer on Jan. 5, 2021, at 2:30. The presumptive sentencing range is two to six years in the Department of Corrections. The charge is eligible for probation.