The clerk accused of selling alcohol to an intoxicated Dana Papst shortly before a deadly crash that claimed six lives was found innocent by a Sandoval County jury Wednesday.
Shanna Renee Lovato, 31, sobbed when the six-person Magistrate Court jury, four men and two women, returned with the verdict after deliberating 11/2 hours.
Lovato was suspected of selling Papst a six-pack of beer at the Chevron Redi-Mart in Bernalillo before he drove the wrong way on Interstate 25 east of Santa Fe and hit a minivan, killing five members of the Gonzales-Collins family. Papst also died. The wreck occurred in November 2006.
What befell the Gonzales-Collins family is a tragedy. However, there are only two parties to blame here, Papst and our legal system. Papst was a menace to society and the death of this family was completely preventable had he been where he belonged, behind bars:
Papst was convicted of auto theft in 1984 and of driving while intoxicated four times — in Adams County in 1982, in Westminster in 1987, in Adams County in 1990 and in Eagle County in 1991. His license has been suspended numerous times for other driving offenses; he was cited 12 times for speeding, driving with a suspended license and equipment violations, among other things.
Instead, the state decides to try to make everyone else responsible for preventing the actions of criminals – everyone, but the criminal. Of course, the irony of all of this is that in an unrelated case one man is being sent to jail for preventing future criminal actions by a habitual criminal.