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Publish Date: 9/30/2005

Teen pleads guilty to vehicular homicide


BOULDER — A Boulder teenager was taken into custody Thursday morning after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide and two misdemeanor charges.

Thomas Gedenberg, who will be 18 next week, was driving drunk at about 2 a.m. June 13 when he crashed his mother’s Lexus into a tree on the 5200 block of Cypress Drive. Tori Reiss, 19, died in the crash.

Police estimated Gedenberg was driving at least 65 mph in a 25-mph zone when he lost control of the car on a curve and crashed.

A blood test at 3:45 a.m. showed Gedenberg’s blood-alcohol content to be .181, police said.

At the time, Gedenberg had a case pending in juvenile court. He was arrested March 11 after he was accused of harassing his girlfriend and then obstructing police who investigated the case, prosecutor Bruce Langer said in court.

Gedenberg was sentenced to between six months and two years in youth corrections after he pleaded guilty to harassment and obstructing a police officer for the March incident. The Department of Youth Corrections will determine how long the sentence is.

After Gedenberg completes that sentence, he will return to court to be sentenced in the vehicular homicide case. Gedenberg faces four years of probation, but prosecutors could ask for up to one year of work release — when inmates are allowed time to work but spend nights and weekends in jail — depending on the progress he makes in youth corrections, Langer said.

“That’s in Mr. Gedenberg’s hands,” Langer said.

Boulder District Judge Carol Glowinsky reiterated Langer’s sentiments and told Gedenberg she will send him to prison if he violates probation after his youth corrections sentence.

“There’s a lot of pressure on you, but it’s really to save your own life,” Glowinsky said. “It will give you a chance to show us what you’re feeling by your actions, not just your words.”

The judge was referring to Gedenberg’s statement, in which he said, “I promise I will live the rest of my life being a more responsible person.

“I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve done,” Gedenberg said, turning about 90 degrees from the judge, toward Reiss’ family and friends. “I realize I’ve ruined many people’s lives.”

Bob Reiss, Tori’s father, addressed Gedenberg in court. The family had planned to leave June 14 for a Bermuda vacation, he said.

“My summer has gone from having a lovely family vacation to you murdering my daughter,” Reiss said.

Reiss expressed his doubts that any program in youth corrections will help Gedenberg. Langer said Gedenberg was placed in a diversion program in 2002, after he was cited for underage drinking.

Victoria Camron can be reached at 303-684-5226, or by e-mail at vcamron@times-call.com.

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