An Aurora man who was driving drunk when he hit and killed a 22-year-old man in a crosswalk has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Christopher Tarr, 42, was convicted by a jury on Dec. 12 of murder in the second degree, attempted murder in the second degree, two counts of vehicular homicide, driving under the influence and reckless driving. He was sentenced Jan. 26.
On Aug. 21, 2016, Tarr was driving drunk at 11:56 pm when he ran a red light at the intersection of South Chambers Road and East Iliff Avenue in Aurora. Based on traffic camera footage it was determined that Tarr entered the intersection at over 67 miles per hour (the posted speed limit in the area is 40 miles per hour). Dalton McCreary was crossing the street with the light in the crosswalk with his best friend.
McCreary saw Tarr’s Toyota 4-Runner coming at them and tried to get himself and his friend out of the way; his last act was to push the friend to safety before being struck.
After the crash, Tarr was seen by witnesses attempting to leave the scene. When officers arrived, Tarr claimed he had not been drinking and that another car caused the accident. Traffic camera video disproved his story. Tarr’s blood alcohol content was determined to be .30 – .32 g/100ml at the time he struck McCreary; nearly four times the legal limit.
The friend received a minor injury; McCreary was killed. The courtroom at sentencing was packed with family members of the victims and representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Several of McCreary’s family members addressed the court to ask for justice and to remember and love the kind, happy young man, Dalton McCreary, that they raised, grew up with, or knew as a friend. Several family members pointed out the contrast between the actions of McCreary, seeming to give his life for his best friend, and the defendant, attempting to flee from the scene before police arrived.
Because the defendant had a prior conviction, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Kellner focused his sentencing argument on deterrence. Documents submitted to the court showed that the defendant had previously attended a Mother Against Drunk Driving victim impact panel, a proceeding often mandated for DUI offenders, designed to confront them with real-life victims who have been affected by drunk driving.
“In Colorado, drunk drivers like Tarr continue to kill and maim the innocent. Tarr knew better. Tarr had a prior conviction that required him to take classes and attend a MADD victim impact panel. He knew well the risks drunk driving creates in our community, but he didn’t care. He didn’t care so much he tried to get away after he ran over the victim,” said District Attorney George H Brauchler. “Prison is the right outcome and the right message for those among us who continue to put our loved ones at risk by driving drunk.”
Arapahoe District Judge Ben Leutwyler cited to the defendant’s prior traffic history, which includes one proven DUI and other instances of leaving the scene of crashes, as reasons for the sentence. Kellner encouraged the judge to impose a severe sanction as a way to give meaning to the terrible loss of a young man like McCreary; the court agreed, telling Tarr that his actions illustrated his indifference to the lives and safety of others.
Chief Deputy District Attorney John Kellner said: “The judge delivered a powerful message to this defendant and to the community that we will not tolerate those who repeatedly put innocent drivers and pedestrians at risk by the selfish decision to drink and drive. Like all deaths caused by DUI drivers, this was an entirely avoidable tragedy. I hope this sentence is a wake-up call for anyone who thinks it’s no big deal to get behind the wheel when they’re drunk or high.”
Deputy District Attorney Rory Devlin, who prosecuted the case with Kellner, said this of the sentence: “For less than $15 for an Uber, this defendant could have prevented a senseless murder. Justice is that he must spend decades in prison contemplating that choice, and reckoning the untold joy and accomplishment he robbed from Dalton McCreary at only 22 years of age.”