Snapchat screenshot leads to conviction in road rage case

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Snapchat video screenshot leads to road rage conviction

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CASTLE ROCK, Colo. —   Douglas County prosecutors say an image from a Snapchat video led to the arrest and conviction of a Parker man for road rage.

A jury convicted Steven Paula, 45, on Wednesday morning of misdemeanor assault and leaving the scene of an accident.  The incident happened Nov. 8, 2014 when Paula and then-18-year-old Mason Deal were involved in a fender bender on Jordan Road.

Prosecutors said Paula became enraged and repeatedly punched Deal.  The attack was recorded on the cellphone of Paula’s then-15-year-old daughter, who posted the video on her Snapchat social media account.

“Thank God for stupid teenage girls and social media,” Mason Deal said after the verdict.

Deal was left with serious facial bruises, a concussion and no memory of the attack.  After the story was first shared, an anonymous high school girl who took a screenshot of the Snapchat video shared the image with the Parker Police Department, which was able to identify and arrest Paula.

“If it weren’t for the Snapchat photo, they would’ve never found him. Probably would have walked and probably would have been sitting here a year and a half later with just as many questions,” Deal said.

During the trial, Paula’s defense attorney claimed Deal cursed at Paula and that Paula punched Deal to protect his two children who were standing on the shoulder of the road.

“A reasonable person who’s concerned about his kids when somebody is screaming, cursing at you is going to react that way.  Not everybody does.  Obviously, the jury didn’t feel that way,” defense attorney John Miquel said.

The victim’s mother, Karen Deal, said she was thankful for the jury’s verdict.

“An example needs to be set about road rage and controlling your temper and the fact that this occurred over such a minor fender bender,” she said.

The jury acquitted Paula on a single count of harassment.  He will be sentenced on May 25 and faces up to two years in prison.  Prosecutors said Paula has previous convictions for burglary and forgery.

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