On August 20, 2018, in Delta District Court, Judge Steven L. Schultz sentenced James H. Catlin to 12 years in the Department of Corrections. Defendant Catlin pleaded guilty to two felony counts pursuant to a plea agreement. Judge Schultz imposed the following sentences:
COUNT 1: Vehicular Homicide – DUI (C.R.S. 18-3-106(1)(b)(I), a class 3 felony, 12 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections with an additional 5 years parole.
COUNT 3: Vehicular Assault – DUI (C.R.S. 18-3-205(1)(b), a class 4 felony, 2 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections with an additional 3 years parole.
These sentences are to run concurrently. Judge Schulz indicated at the sentencing that the most important factors in this case were that there were multiple victims and that the Defendant chose to drink and drive without considering the consequences of his actions.
On February 6, 2017, a vehicle driven by Defendant Catlin collided head-on with a car driven by Gladys “Josie” Varela on Highway 50 in North Delta. Josie Varela died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision. She was 19 years old and died just 3 days short of her 20th birthday. Her father, Victor Varela, was a passenger and suffered serious bodily injury.
Defendant Catlin is a resident of the state of Massachusetts. He had to be extricated from the vehicle he was driving and taken to St. Mary’s Hospital, where he remained in a coma for a time. Blood drawn from James H. Catlin three hours after the crash revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.26 g/100mL, more than three times the legal limit in Colorado. In addition, the test revealed the presence of 1.0 ng/mL of marijuana. Law enforcement found beer, tequila, whiskey and marijuana in the vehicle Catlin was driving.
After Mr. Catlin was released from the hospital he returned to Delta and turned himself in to the Delta County Sheriff’s Office on or about April 5, 2018. He posted a bond of $60,000.00 on April 6, 2017, and was free on bond until August 20, 2018, when he was sentenced to prison and remanded into custody.
Josie’s mother, Michelle Martinez, and father, Victor Varela, spoke at the sentencing hearing along with other family and friends of the victim and some first responders who were present on August 20, 2018. Several officers from the Delta Police Department provided letters to the Court requesting the maximum sentence be imposed. Mr. Catlin also wrote a letter to the family of the victim Josie Varela.
This Office works diligently to represent the People of the State of Colorado and to support our victims through the judicial process. This is a case where the criminal process was extremely difficult and traumatic for Josie’s family. Driving Under the Influence of alcohol and drugs continues to kill and cause mayhem on our highways. We will continue to vigorously prosecute these criminal cases and the driver’s who “choose to drink and drive without considering the consequences of [their] actions.”
This Office strongly and respectfully extends their appreciation to the efforts of our partners in law enforcement, including the Delta Police Department and the Colorado State Patrol, and the other first responders on the scene of this crash. Specifically, Delta Police Officer JR Reece, Detective Sergent Jeremy Gay, and Commander Jesse Cox.
Any criminal charge against a defendant is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until or unless proven guilty.