Luke Griffin: Corrina Vaden — 2-24-2017

Suspect: Luke Griffin

Victim: Corrina Vaden

Non-fatal victim: Kimberley Butcher

Non-fatal victim: Elizabeth Rotter

Charges: DWI vehicular homicide, two counts of DWI great bodily harm, aggravated DWI, possession of an alcoholic beverage by a minor and open container of alcohol in a vehicle

Status: Guilty plea to DWI vehicular homicide, two counts of DWI great bodily harm

Sentence: 9 years followed by 5 years supervised probation

Date of incident: Feb. 24, 2017

Agency: State Police

Location: Sandoval County

Magistrate case number: M-45-FR-2017-00147

District case number: D-1329-CR-2017-00105

 

Summary

While driving in excess of 100 mph on Feb. 24, 2017, Luke Griffin slammed into the back of another car, killing Corrina Vaden and injuring Kimberley Butcher and Elizabeth Rotter. A blood-alcohol test showed a level of 0.22, over twice the legal limit of 0.08.

On March 16, 2017, a grand jury indicted Griffin on charges of DWI vehicular homicide, two counts of DWI great bodily harm, aggravated DWI, possession of an alcoholic beverage by a minor and possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

On Dec. 11, 2017, Griffin pleaded guilty to DWI vehicular homicide and two counts of DWI great bodily harm and, per the plea agreement accepted by District Court Judge Luis P. McDonald, he was to receive a sentence of 9 years and 122 days and be given credit for 122 days time served. None of the crimes were to be considered serious violent offenses, decreasing the amount of time required to serve before being released on probation or parole from 85 percent to 50 percent.

According to the plea, he is also to be on supervised probation for 5 years after his release. He was officially sentenced on Dec. 15, 2017 by McDonald, who, based on the plea, gave him a total sentence of 21 years, but suspended 11 years, for the 9 year sentence.

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The incident

Around 11 p.m., Feb. 24, 2017, State Police Officer Larry Reuter was dispatched to Interstate 25 at mile post 252 to investigate a multiple-vehicle crash. Medics were already on the scene, trying to extract two passengers and one of the drivers involved, Reuter wrote in a statement of probable cause for Griffin’s arrest.

Luke Griffin

At 11:21 p.m., Reuter arrived and saw two cars on the shoulder.

He would later learn that Corrina Vaden died and two others, Kimberley Butcher and Elizabeth Rotter, had life-threatening injuries and were taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital in Albuquerque.

The two cars involved were a silver 2004 Audi and a 2014 Nissan, with its roof caved in and parts of the door missing. Griffin was allegedly the driver of the Audi and officers were later find him to be allegedly intoxicated.

“Emergency medical personnel were rendering aid to the driver and passenger of Nissan (Vehicle 2),” Reuter wrote. “The driver of Vehicle 2 was motionless and slumped over in the driver seat.”

One man was walking around, stating he was a witness and that Audi had been driven erratically before the crash.

Another witness, unnamed, said the Audi had been going over 100 mph to pass vehicles on the right shoulder.

“A different witness provided a verbal statement they observed Luke Griffin exit the audi after the crash and throw what appeared to be a liquor bottle over a fence,” Reuter wrote.

After Griffin was cleared by medics, Reuter found him to be stumbling, have bloodshot eyes and he allegedly smelled of alcohol. He also allegedly slurred his speech.

“I asked Luke how many alcoholic beverages he consumed and he stated he drank three beers at approximately 6 00 pm this date,” Reuter wrote.

Reuter then had Griffin do a series of field sobriety tests, which he allegedly did poorly on.

“Based on Luke’s state of intoxication and his safety the SFST’s were terminated,” Reuter wrote, referring to the field sobriety tests.

Reuter took Griffin to the State Police office for a blood-alcohol level test and found the tests were allegedly 0.22, above 0.16, twice the legal-per-se limit. He did not write what the exact measurements were. He then had a blood draw done at the State Police office.

 

The indictment and plea deal

On March 16, 2017, a grand jury indicted Griffin on charges:

  • DWI vehicular homicide
  • aggravated DWI
  • possession of an alcoholic beverage by a minor
  • possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle
  • two counts of DWI great bodily harm
Portrait of District Judge Louis McDonald
Judge Louis McDonald

On Dec. 11, 2017, Griffin pleaded guilty to DWI vehicular homicide and two counts of DWI great bodily harm and, per the plea agreement accepted by District Court Judge Luis McDonald, he was to receive a sentence of 9 years and 122 days and be given credit for 122 days time served. None of the crimes were to be considered serious violent offenses, decreasing the amount of time required to serve before being released on probation or parole from 85 percent to 50 percent.

According to the plea, he is also to be on supervised probation for 5 years after his release. McDonald officially sentenced him on Dec. 15, 2017. McDonald, based on the plea, gave him a total sentence of 21 years, but suspended 11 years, for the 9 year sentence.

View the court documents on Google Drive