Timothy Knutson sentenced to 14 years in prison for death of Aurora woman.

A drunk driver who hit and killed an Aurora woman in 2018 has been sentenced to 14 years in prison.

Timothy Knutson, 40, of Aurora, was sentenced Wednesday for the death of 24-year-old Jana Phillips, according to the Arapahoe County District Attorney’s Office.

On Oct. 28, 2018, Phillips was walking home on East Iliff Avenue, near South Rifle Street, when a Jeep Patriot driven by Knutson jumped a curb and hit her, dragging the victim for a short distance. Knutson, who had been drinking at a bar, fled the scene where Phillips died.

Knutson was arrested a short time later, not far from the crash, on suspicion of drunk driving. Three open alcohol containers, empty containers and a marijuana joint were found in the Jeep, according to a news release. Parts from the Jeep were left behind at the violent crash scene.

At the time of her death, Phillips was attending school to be a dental assistant. She would have graduated in four months.

“My sister did nothing but good for the world. She served a purpose, and she meant more than
something left on the side of the street,” a sister of Phillips told the court at sentencing.

Phillips’ mother also addressed the court.

“I act like everything is OK, and it’s not. I miss my baby,” she said through tears. “All I have left is a sign: ‘In memory of Jana — Don’t drink and drive.’” The news release from the district attorney’s office did not identify Phillips’ mother and sister by name.

Knutson’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was 0.27, according to prosecutors. The zero tolerance level in Colorado is 0.02. He also had THC in his blood system and the drug Kratom, an illegal substance that can induce hallucination and seizure.

“He wasn’t simply drunk but extraordinarily drunk. He wasn’t simply high but extraordinarily
high,” Deputy District Attorney Meghan Gallo told the court. “She was run down like roadkill.”

On March 12, Knutson pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide DUI and leaving the scene of a crash involving death, both felonies. Arapahoe County District Court Judge Darren Vahle sentenced Knutson to ten years for vehicular homicide and four years, to be served consecutive, for leaving the scene.

“Jana’s family and friends are forever deprived of her presence in their lives,” said District Attorney John Kellner, in the release. “We will never know what great things she might have done in the world. She deserved to live, and this defendant deserves to be in prison for the decisions he made. That is the appropriate consequence for his selfish actions.”

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