Victim’s family speaks out against convicted drunk driver’s early release

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FEDERAL HEIGHTS, Colo. -- It has been nearly six years since a drunk driver whose blood alcohol level was more than four times the legal limit killed a woman in Federal Heights.

The victim, 50-year-old Tina Padilla, never met her 4-year-old granddaughter and her family still grieves their loss.

The family says their heartbreak is compounded by the possibility her killer could be released early from prison.

They came out Wednesday morning to oppose his parole.

Jonathan Ardoline has served five years of an original 18-year sentence that was reduced to 14 years after he completed a boot camp.

When combined with time off for good behavior, Ardoline's sentenced has been further reduced and he is now eligible for parole.

But the victim's family says it is way too soon.

"I was there at the accident. I see it every morning and I go to bed with it every night," said Padilla’s daughter, Nicole.

The family arrived to the parole hearing wearing Tina Padilla's ashes around their necks and T-shirts with her picture.

A decision that is expected Thursday could release the man who killed Padilla from prison in three months.

"It's not fair. He needs to stay in there. He took our Nina from me. He took their sister. He took their daughter, their mother, their grandma,” said a tearful Jolene Garcia, who was Padilla’s goddaughter.

Ardoline killed Padilla in May 2006 in a head-on collision while driving drunk on the wrong side of the road in Federal Heights. His blood alcohol content was 0.36--more than four times the legal limit.

"I know he's going to get out eventually. We know that. But the hardest thing is he's never ever shown remorse, never told the family he's sorry, not once," said Mona Baca-Heiberg, Padilla’s sister.

Ardoline's parole hearing was closed to cameras and recording devices, and he spoke to the parole board member through closed circuit television from his prison in Rifle.

"I have to live with this, that I took a life. It's a constant reminder," Ardoline said during the hearing. "I strive to make Ms. Padilla proud of me. I now have to live my life for two people."

"I'm trying to move on and live for me and my daughter. It's just real hard. And for him to say he's living his life for my mom and him. Now you're not because if you did you would be in alcohol classes," said Nicole.

During the hearing, Ardoline told the board member that he stopped going to Alcoholics Anonymous classes, a comment that prompted Nicole to say the program has to become "part of his life."

"It's hard. It's the waiting game," said Baca-Heiberg.

The family left the hearing without an answer. They were hopeful, but questioned the state's sentencing laws.

"If somebody kills somebody, you pay the time. If you're sentenced to 16 years, 18 years, you do the time--the whole time," says Baca-Heiberg.

According to current state law, anyone sentenced for this type of crime is eligible for parole after serving half their sentence. An inmate's sentence can be further reduced for good behavior, shaving an additional 10 days off their sentence every month.

The board also considers the inmate's risk to the community, how he is bettering himself while in prison, where he will live and work, and who will be responsible for him.

Four of the seven parole board members have to agree to release Ardoline on parole.

Ardoline’s mandatory parole date is April 4, 2019.

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