Drunk driver sentenced to 14 years for crash that killed 24-year-old Aurora woman

Local News

Office of the District Attorney, 18th Judicial District

AURORA, Colo. (KDVR) — A drunk driver who hit and killed an Aurora woman walking on the sidewalk was sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Timothy Knutson, 40, was sentenced for the death of Jana Phillips, 24. On Oct. 28, 2018 Knutson drove home intoxicated after drinking at a bar. Phillips was walking home on East Iliff Avenue after her own night out, when Knutson drove onto the sidewalk, hitting her.

Phillips’ body was dragged for a short distance after the initial impact. Her body was found by a passerby, her socks and shoes having been knocked off from the force of the collision. Phillips was dead at the scene.

Knutson was arrested by Aurora police a short distance away on a DUI charge. He not only had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit, but THC and Kratom in his system as well.

Arapahoe County District Court Judge Darren Vahle sentenced Knutson, allowing Phillips’ family to be present for the May 19 sentencing.

“My sister did nothing but good for the world. She served a purpose, and she meant more than something left on the side of the street,” said one of Phillips’ sisters in court.

Phillips’ mother spoke moving words to the court as well. “I act like everything is OK, and it’s not. I miss my baby,” she said. “All I have left is a sign: ‘In memory of Jana. Don’t drink and drive’.”

Judge Vahle also took into account Knutson’s past offences. According to Knutson’s record, he had failed probation and committed multiple crimes before the hit-and-run.

“It’s ironic that both of these people were drinking that night. One cared about people in society and was walking home. The other barreled down a sidewalk and killed someone. The appropriate punishment makes a statement to society that we care about people’s lives. It sends a statement that we cannot drink and drive, and if you do, there is a punishment,” said Judge Vahle.

Knutson pleaded guilty on March 12 of this year, to charges of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. These are both Class 3 felonies.

Knutson was sentenced to to 10 years on the vehicular homicide count and four years for leaving the scene.

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