Kobe DA Hurlbert blasted for lesser charges in hit-and-run case

The blogosphere is alive with seething over a questionable decision by Fifth Judicial District Attorney Mark Hurlbert not to file a felony charge against a wealthy Edwards financial manager in a hit-and-run collision with a cyclist last summer.

Hurlbert, a Republican who had a rough summer of his own politically – unsuccessfully seeking a state Senate seat – is famous for failing to make a sexual assault case against NBA superstar Kobe Bryant stick in 2003. Praised in some circles for at least trying (what would Ken Buck have done?), Hurlbert saw the alleged victim drop the criminal case after relentless media and public harassment.

Critics claim Hurlbert and Eagle County Sheriff Joe Hoy, whose own election is still up in the air a week after last week’s midterms, were outgunned by Bryant’s big-name attorneys, one of whom was Harold Haddon.

Steven Milo, the New York doctor allegedly hit by financial manager Martin Erzinger while cycling in Edwards, retained Haddon, who owns a home in Aspen and used to pal around with the late Dr. Hunter S. Thompson. There seems to be a question of whether this is some sort of grudge match between Haddon and Hurlbert.

The DA is sticking by his decision to only file two misdemeanor charges in the case, noting that Erzinger was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs and that by avoiding a felony charge he would better be able to work and make financial restitution to the badly injured Milo. Erzinger claims he did not know he hit anyone and that’s why he kept driving to Avon.

“You see victims retain attorneys more and more,” Hurlbert told the Vail Daily Monday. “Some could be contemplating possible civil action. Others are working to protect the victim’s rights.”

The paper reports “Hurlbert has received over 1,000 e-mails since news broke last week” and that there’s “an online petition with more than 6,000 signatures being circulated to tell Hurlbert to keep the felony charge against Erzinger, and the case is receiving national media attention from shows like CBS’s ‘Inside Edition.’”

Hurlbert, who was blindsided by Tea Party candidate Tim Leonard (who’s still technically alive in the state Senate District 16 race) at last summer’s Republican caucus, was considered a highly electable moderate. Eventual American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo backed Leonard, who was a founder of that party in Colorado, while state Senate District 8 Republican Sen. Al White (Vail’s state senator) backed Hurlbert.

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