Dabbing at tears, an 18-year-old Parker man pleaded guilty Friday to killing two close friends in a Labor Day drunk-driving crash in Black Forest.
As relatives of the dead sat weeping in court, Marshal Douglas Gregory answered a judge's questions in soft-spoken tones, describing in a quavering voice how he attended a Monument party during which he took shots of Jack Daniels, swigged from the bottle and took several hits of marijuana before getting into a 2005 Mini Cooper with three friends.
"I later got into an accident that resulted in the death of Ryan and Beau," he said, referring to victims Ryan Pappas, 18, and Beau Begier, 17.
A third passenger, Jack Clark, was severely injured in the Sept. 1 crash but has since recovered, said lead prosecutor Andy Vaughan.
Colorado State Patrol troopers said Gregory was traveling 80 mph in a 40 mph zone when he blew through a stop sign at Hodgen and Roller Coaster roads. His car went airborne three times before it crashed through a fence and onto a row of trees at the bottom of an embankment.
Testing found his blood alcohol content was .10 percent, exceeding the legal limit for adult drivers of .08 percent.
The testing also showed evidence of Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
Gregory pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide in exchange for the dismissal of other counts against him, including vehicular assault and driving under the influence.
Under terms of a plea deal, he faces four to six years in the Youthful Offender System, a Pueblo incarceration program for juveniles that emphasizes rehabilitation.
The sentence comes with a caveat, however. If Gregory enters the program and fails, he will automatically face a prison term triple the length of the youth system sentence he receives. If Gregory isn't accepted into the program, he will face up to 18 years in prison.
He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 16 by 4th Judicial District Judge G. David Miller.
Although he was 17 at the time of the crash, Gregory was prosecuted as an adult. Had he been convicted at trial of all counts against him, he could have served up to 30 years in prison, according to District Attorney Dan May, who attended the hearing.
All three victims were students at Palmer Ridge High School at the time of the crash.
They all were suspected of drinking alcohol, according to the Colorado State Patrol's traffic report, but investigators did not say who supplied the intoxicants. Gregory wasn't asked that question during the hearing and didn't supply those details.
Family members on both sides of the tragedy left the courtroom without addressing reporters.