AURORA | An Arapahoe County jury last week convicted a repeat drunk driver of second-degree murder for running over and killing an Aurora man in a crosswalk last year.
The murder conviction alone could carry a 48-year sentence for Christopher Tarr, 42, but he could also face additional time for DUI, reckless driving, careless driving and vehicular homicide counts. He is scheduled for sentencing Jan. 25.
For the family of Dalton McCreary, the 22-year-old Aurora man killed that night in August 2016, the weighty conviction and likely sentence it carries are certainly tough, but welcome.
“It wasn’t out of vindictiveness, it was more that we wanted to see the community be safe,” said Erin Garcia, McCreary’s aunt.
Tarr was previously arrested on a drunk driving charge in 2010, and Garcia said that the night of the crash, Tarr’s passenger pleaded with him to slow down before he tried to make a turn at East Iliff Avenue and South Chambers Road. Police said he was going about 70 mph.
“He has done it before, and it’s hard to not assume he would do it again,” she said.
Tarr was arrested after the crash, but he posted a bond last year and had been free until his conviction last week. He was booked into the Arapahoe County Jail following the conviction pending his sentencing hearing.
According to police, prosecutors and witnesses, McCreary and his friend were walking along South Chambers Road crossing East Iliff Avenue early that morning when Tarr ran a red light. His car careened across the road and struck McCreary.
McCreary later died at a local hospital, but his friend, 18-year-old Jordan Mulumulu, who was walking with him, later credited McCreary with saving his life by yelling to look out and shoving him out of the SUV’s path.
Police said Tarr’s Toyota 4Runner rolled down an embankment into a Walgreen’s parking lot after the crash. Several people chased the SUV as Tarr tried to drive away, police said, but the vehicle was too damaged and couldn’t make it out of the lot.
After his release from the hospital, Tarr was charged with vehicular homicide and driving under the influence. Police said he later posted a $50,000 bond and was released from jail.
That sort of recklessness is a far cry from the man McCreary was, his aunt said. She said her nephew once slept on her couch after drinking one beer because he didn’t want to risk driving the few blocks home after drinking.
“He was 22 years old and he knew better,” she said.
McCreary was an Aurora native and graduate of Aurora Central High School, Garcia said. He lived in Aurora after graduating and was always proud of his hometown, she said.
District Attorney George Brauchler said in a statement that a harsh sentence is important in DUI cases, which put everyone on the road at risk.
“DUI is the one crime from which we cannot shield our families, unless we choose to live in a cave. All who walk and drive our roads are protected from injury and death only by signs, lights, paint on the roads, and the trust that drivers will obey them. Here, Tarr selfishly engaged in lethal behavior, killing an innocent man. There is never an excuse for a drunk driving death, but in this case, the defendant had been explicitly made aware of the consequences of drunk driving. He just didn’t care.”