Terence  T.J.  Doherty and his fiancée, Adrienne Herzog
Terence T.J. Doherty and his fiancée, Adrienne Herzog

Even though he knew the deal was coming, Tuesday wasn't easy for Terry Doherty

"It was a tough drive in to work this morning," Doherty said the day after the driver who hit and killed his son, Terence "T.J." Doherty, last summer in Boulder accepted a plea deal that keeps him out of jail.

For Terry Doherty and many of T.J.'s friends and family, there are mixed emotions surrounding the plea agreement that allowed the driver who hit him, Kirk Condon, to walk out of court this week a free man.

Condon, 59, pleaded guilty to one count of careless driving resulting in death Monday, the same count he was charged with last year when he struck Doherty and the same count he was prepared to go to trial on just weeks ago.

But in exchange for the plea, prosecutors and Doherty's family agreed that they would not pursue jail time even though the charge was punishable by up to a year behind bars. Condon ultimately was sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

"We didn't really want him to do any jail time and tear his family up like he tore ours up," Terry Doherty said from Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lives.

Condon's attorney did not return calls seeking comment.

According to the Colorado State Patrol, T.J. Doherty was riding his bike east on U.S. 36 in the right turn lane on July 22 when Condon -- traveling west on U.S. 36 -- turned left onto Violet Avenue, colliding with Doherty.

Terry Doherty said that when the Boulder County District Attorney's Office first contacted him, he and his family sent prosecutors pictures not only of T.J. in happier times, but of him fighting for his life at Boulder Community Hospital after the accident -- and his body in a casket after he lost that fight.

"It was an accident, but (Condon) in essence killed my son," Terry Doherty said. "My son, who will never be with us, we will never have grandkids from, I won't get to play the guitar and sing with him anymore."

But when the DA's Office asked the family about a sentence for Condon, they agreed with the decision not to seek jail time -- even though it wasn't always easy.

"We were trying to be as Christian as we could, but, at the same time, we were upset and mad," Doherty said. "How do you really pay us back for losing him? Would 200 hours have been better? Would losing his license have been better?

"I don't know where that line is to say, 'Yes, I'm satisfied.' I would have been more satisfied if it were a small accident and T.J. was alive. That would be the most satisfying. But we can't get him back, no matter what happens."

'It seems low'

Not all of Doherty's family members agreed with the sentence.

"Personally, I felt that was a little light," said Tim Kenkel, Doherty's cousin. "T.J. was a great guy, and a really caring guy. So to say his life was only worth 100 hours of someone else volunteering is pretty... minuscule, I guess."

For the family, hearing Condon accept responsibility for what he did was a big part of the plea. At Monday's hearing, Condon read a statement, saying, "T.J. is gone because of me."

But Kenkel pointed out that, in February, Condon had pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to fight the charge at trial in May. In fact, the family members said they were told by prosecutors that Condon's attorneys only started working toward a plea as a jury was deliberating another Boulder man's fate in a similar case.

Christopher Loven was convicted of the same charge last month for making a left turn in Lefthand Canyon and killing a cyclist -- 73-year-old Eugene "Phil" Howrey -- nearly two years ago. Loven is set to be sentenced May 2.

Kenkel said the timing of Condon's willingness to take a plea deal struck him as suspect.

"To me it seems it was all about protecting himself and not taking responsibility for his actions," Kenkel said. "Honestly, I don't think it was all that genuine."

'I'm happy it's over'

While Kenkel -- who lives in Boulder -- said he followed the case closely throughout the proceedings, Doherty's girlfriend, Adrienne Herzog, said she actually had to distance herself.

"In the beginning I was more involved," she said. "Then I noticed that, for me, being really involved, it was definitely hard."

Because of that Herzog, said she didn't really know what to think about the sentence.

"It seems low, what (Condon) has to do is not much, but I've tried to stay away from the case because, for me, it doesn't change the situation," she said. "To have anger against Kirk Condon or to want him to get the highest punishment, I don't have those feelings anymore. It just doesn't change anything about the situation.

"I'm just happy it's closed. I'm happy it's over."

While the criminal case is over, Terry Doherty said a civil lawsuit against Condon is likely.

The impacts of what happened always will be with those who knew Doherty.

"I think about it every day," Kenkel said. "I ride my bike pretty religiously, and I ride on that road and that section pretty often. It's a senseless act, and it's going to take a long time and a lot of healing."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.