Suspected drunk and texting driver arraigned on vehicular homicide charges
CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — It was standing room only inside a Douglas County courtroom on Monday morning for the arraignment of Athina Munoz. The 28-year-old Parker woman pleaded not guilty to seven charges, including two counts vehicular homicide/DUI.
State troopers say Munoz was drunk and checking a text when she slammed head-on into a motorcycle driven by 58-year old Brian Lehner. His 56-year old wife Jacquie Lehner was riding on the back of their Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Both died at the scene near Highway 83 and South Russellville road in Franktown on Feb. 27. After Monday’s hearing, relatives and dozens of motorcycle friends met privately with prosecutors.
“I think the show of support here was impressive, in some ways unprecedented for a case this early on in the process,” 18th Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler said. “There’s a great number of people in this community who I think not only feel a great sense of loss and sorrow but also of risk to them in the future based on what’s alleged here.”
Statistics from the Colorado Department of Transportation bear that out as 2015 was the deadliest year on record for motorcyclists in the state with 105 deaths.
This year is on pace to break the record with 58 deaths as of July 22, compared to 51 deaths at the same time last year.
“We are constantly on the defensive and nobody sees people texting or being on their phone better than bicyclists or motorcyclists. We see it and there’s nothing we can do about it,” said Jan Kindoll, a family friend of the Lehner’s who came to the arraignment.
Kindoll said the motorcycle community wants Munoz held accountable.
“She made all the bad choices that day. She made a horrific choice that day, one that took two people`s lives,” she said.
Munoz’s choices have been investigated before. In March 2011, she shot two men dead after the Aurora Police Department said they broke into her home at the Sable Landings apartment complex.
Investigators said she was growing marijuana but she wasn’t charged with the shootings because of Colorado’s “Make My Day” law.
This time, friends of the Lehners insist the victims were blameless.
“There wasn’t a person they didn’t smile at, that they didn’t give their hearts to,” Kindoll said.
Munoz is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 6.