ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. — A 16-year-old boy was sentenced to five years in the Division of Youth Services for child abuse resulting in death, vehicular unlawful termination of pregnancy and other charges in a crash that seriously injured a woman and led to the death of her unborn son.
The crash happened on Oct. 19, 2017. The teenage driver, then 15, was driving a stolen Honda SUV when he ran a stop sign while eluding police at 84th Avenue and Federal Boulevard.
The unnamed teen ran another stop sign at 88th Avenue and Norwich Street in Westminster, crashing into a Dodge SUV driven by Rebecca Sowatzke.
Sowatzke was nine months pregnant at the time. The 17th Judicial District Attorney’s Office said she suffered numerous injuries and underwent an emergency caesarean section to deliver her son, Wyatt.
The baby had suffered severe head trauma in the crash. He survived six days before life support was removed on Oct. 24.
The teen pleaded guilty Thursday as an aggravated juvenile offender to all of the charges he faced: Child abuse resulting in death, two counts of vehicular eluding causing the death of Wyatt and serious bodily injury to Sowatzke, first-degree aggravated motor vehicle theft, vehicular unlawful termination of a pregnancy and reckless driving causing serious bodily injury.
District Attorney Dave Young expressed frustration in being constrained by state law when it came to the severity of the sentence.
“Although the plea agreement called for the maximum sentence allowable under Colorado law of five years to the Division of Youth Services, the District Attorney’s Office as well as the judge felt the disposition did not adequately address the circumstances of this case,” Young said.
Young further called the case profoundly sad.
“We originally filed this case based upon existing case law and statutes,” he said. “An appellate ruling came out that conflicted with the current state of the law and caused us to re-evaluate the disposition of the case.
“A legislative fix is clearly needed.”
Young urged state lawmakers to examine the case and find a solution so victims of future crimes “would achieve a greater sense of justice.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Tariq Sheikh also expressed frustration with state laws and called the case’s result unacceptable but necessary.
“What do you do when the laws don’t protect people from what has happened to them?” Sheikh said.
“[The crash] left us without our son as well as the possibility of having more children,” Sowatzke said in a statement. “Our beautiful Wyatt was taken from us.
“We lost our future with him and so many milestones, his first smile, his first steps, his first day of school. Our hearts are broken, our future forever changed. There will never [be] justice for what we have been though. He will be in our hearts forever.”
Adams County District Judge Priscilla Loew said the five-year sentence is “not an appropriate sentence, but I will accept it based on the state of the law and the record made by the prosecutor.”
Loew also pressed the teen to consider himself fortunate to have a second chance.
“You should take the life that you have keeping Wyatt in mind. I don’t just hope that, I expect it from you,” Loew said.AlertMe