The man charged with killing Kate Klein, Rose Simmons, Julian Martinez and Alyssa Truow, and maiming Avree Koffman, all Santa Fe teenagers, was acquitted this evening of all charges. Had he been convicted of the four counts of vehicular homicide and one count of great bodily injury by vehicle, Scott Owens, 29, would have faced up to 27 years in prison for T-boning Koffman's car in the horrific June 28, 2009 crash.
A group of the victims' friends and family gathered in front of the downtown courthouse after the verdict was read and reeled from what they felt was a great injustice.
"A murderer is loose in our fucking town," Koffman's father Dan Koffman says. "I hope he has money for plastic surgery."
Koffman and others say Owens' attorney Dan Cron prevailed by confusing the jury.
"It was not cut and dry, and that crafty little weasel successfully confused the jury," Koffman says.
During the trial, Cron called witnesses who supported his theory that Owens was driving in the correct lane during the June 28, 2009 Old Las Vegas Highway crash. The jury deliberated half the day Monday and all day Tuesday, reaching a verdict around 6 p.m.
"If [Owens] did nothing more than stay home that night or stay wherever the fuck he was and sober up, none of this would have ever happened," Rose Simmon's dad John Simmons says.
Owens had a blood alcohol concentration of .16 at the time of the crash. Koffman and Taylor Johnson, 16, who was driving a car behind Koffman's the night of the crash, were both sober.
Rossa Moreno, a friend of Koffman's and of the deceased victims, is a teen mock court judge, and says she can't wait to go to law school so she can prosecute people like Owens.
"I wish I was a real judge so I could throw his ass in jail," Moreno says.
Moreno says the trial proceedings unfairly maligned Johnson. Cron called an accident reconstructionist who argued that Johnson likely pushed Koffman's car into Owen's lane. That theory clashes with everything Moreno has heard from her friends about the way the crash happened.
"I feel so bad for Taylor," Moreno says. "This trial made it seem like she was guilty. If she was guilty, she would have been prosecuted."
Jennifer Ivey, another friend to the kids involved, imagines how Truow, who was 16 when she was killed, would react to the verdict.
"She was very cynical," Ivey says. "She would just laugh at the utter idiocy of this."