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Charging documents detail moments before parole officer's killing

Posted at 5:32 PM, Oct 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-13 20:34:12-04

Missing details are coming to light in an affidavit outlining what happened just before prosecutors say a known felon ran over and killed parole Officer Christine Guerin Sandoval in Pueblo last month.

Prosecutors waited until the morning of the deadline to file multiple charges against Justin Kula.

Colorado Springs Police tell News 5 investigators took the time they needed to ensure they passed prosecutors sufficient evidence for probable cause against the 41-year-old man.

Kula is facing four charges, three of them felonies, including manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of an accident involving death. He's also charged with third-degree misdemeanor assault.

Kula is also facing three counts of being a habitual offender, which is Colorado's version of the three strikes law. It applies to anyone charged with a felony who has been convicted of the three prior felonies.

It mandates that if Kula is convicted, a judge must increase the length of his sentence by four times what the sentence guidelines recommend for the most recent felony. The judge could also sentence Kula to life in prison under the sentencing enhancements.

Kula was wanted for failing to check in with his parole officer and the affidavit says that on September 23rd, his ex-wife called parole officers and told them she knew where Kula would be, as the two had arranged a meeting. She shared the location with them, according to the documents.

When three patrol officers pulled up to the Lexus RX-330 SUV Kula was driving, body camera video shows they did not activate any emergency lights and did not identify themselves before opening his driver and passenger side doors and demanding at gunpoint that he put his hands up, the documents said.

That's when Kula shifted the Lexus into reverse, knocking down Officer Sandoval, on the driver's side, and her colleague Officer Nickolas Sagura on the passenger side with the open doors. The documents go on to detail that Kula then accelerated over a nearby curb and in doing so, ran over Sandoval who later died.

Kula later told officers that just before the incident he'd done both methamphetamine and heroin and that he didn't know that Sandoval or her colleagues were law enforcement.

"He believed he was being robbed and could only focus on the gun the female was holding," the documents said.

He thought his ex-wife had set him up and he'd be shot unless he got away, the charging documents said.

"Mr. Kula became seemingly emotional and stated he did not believe anyone had died. Mr. Kula stated he never wanted to hurt anyone but simply wanted to flee the scene as quickly as possible because he was scared," the documents said.

It's also noted in the documents charging Kula that Sandoval was not wearing any wording or insignia identifying her as law enforcement. However, it's documented on body camera footage that Officer Sagura, "can be seen in very close proximity to Mr. Kula and is seen wearing a ballistic vest with markings indicating she was a parole officer and giving commands a reasonable person would associate with commands given by a law enforcement officer," the documents said.

A judge ordered Kula held of $250,000 cash bond.

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