Skip to content

Breaking News

  • Mary Jo Anne Thomas

    Mary Jo Anne Thomas

  • John Breaux

    John Breaux



BOULDER, Colo. –

The 62-year-old woman who struck and killed a quirky yet widely loved Louisville man with her car earlier this year pleaded guilty Friday to a felony count of criminally negligent homicide.

As part of Mary Jo Thomas’ plea deal, prosecutors recommended that she be sentenced to probation â with possible home monitoring and community service â rather than jail for the Jan. 30 death of John Breaux.

She is scheduled to be sentenced by Boulder District Judge James Klein on July 10.

Klein explained to Thomas that he usually accepts the prosecution’s recommendations on sentencing but has the power to choose a harsher punishment. Criminally negligent homicide carries a possible one to three years in prison with two years mandatory parole.

The judge asked Thomas if she understood what he was telling her.

“Yes I do, your honor,” Thomas replied quietly.

Thomas, whose lawyer has described as having a condition that affects her ability to fully grasp what’s happening around her, declined to comment after the hearing.

Breaux, 57, was well-known around eastern Boulder County as a friendly soul who rode around on his bike, picked up trash, and shared a smile with those around him.

He was killed when Thomas, driving in a Chrysler PT cruiser, hit him on the side of U.S. 287 just north of South Boulder Road in Lafayette after failing to negotiate a curve in the road, police say.

Although police found multiple prescription medication bottles in her glove box, toxicology tests determined Thomas was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident.

Breaux’s funeral brought out droves of people who had been touched by his gentle presence over the years. Lafayette leaders voted to name a park after Breaux, while Louisville’s City Council is planning a permanent memorial.

Breaux’s brother David Bright, with whom Breaux lived for nine years, said he didn’t want to see Thomas go to jail. But he said he and his wife are frustrated that Thomas’ insurance company is refusing to settle with them for their loss.

He said he and his two other siblings aren’t considered Breaux’s heirs under Colorado law and thus aren’t due any money.

“We’re not considered heirs even though I took care of my brother like he was one of my kids,” Bright said Friday. “Her insurance company should be willing to pay something. I feel like a mouse in a cat game.”

Archived comments

How about some community service ( in remembrance ) and never letting her drive again.


5/22/2009 2:58:41 PM

Probation, she was just as impaired as a drunk person, I saw her right after she got out of the car.She could not respond to questioning and failed road side test.I know the reports say that she was unimpaired but I saw that she was.I agree if your attorney says that you do not know what is happening around you then you should not drive!


5/22/2009 3:15:25 PM

I can’t believe they’re recommending such a minor penalty for killing someone like this. Probation? What? She was just as impaired as a drunk and they’d be in jail for a long time. What a loss all around (except for the great way she dodged any punishment I guess. I’d count that as a win for her).


5/22/2009 3:53:17 PM

Why are they being so lenient?If she was driving while under the influence of prescription drugs, she should be treated like anyone else who KILLED ANOTHER HUMAN BEING.

Probation?No way.

5/22/2009 4:10:44 PM

What’s stopping this woman from doing this again?

If she’s not thrown in jail then she needs to be committed.Her “mental defect” is obviously making her a danger to other people.


5/22/2009 4:35:41 PM

“Why are they being so lenient?”

She is a woman and as a society we give women sympathy and compassion but not accountability, that would be cruel.


5/22/2009 4:45:34 PM

I can not believe this woman is getting off so easily here. She Killed John not some animal here. She should not a sentence such as cruelty to humans but a full sentence of homicide to a HUMAN here. She drove when she was inpaired by meds just like if she were drinking and driving and if you and I did that we would and should get the book thrown at us and given the full harsh sentence. Not a slap on the wrist here.

She is a danger to the community here. She should have to get commmunity service, using a bike and cleaning all the areas where John used to clean up all the time, espically on 287.


5/22/2009 6:19:14 PM

She definitely has some sort of mental illness, and unfortunately she took the life of another.All around this is a very sad situation, but to put her in jail for a mental illness that contributed to this tragedy will not solve anything.I would say the best way to make sure she does not do something like this again,(other than jail) is put her on home confinement for a couple years and hope that some of her family can step in and help her.But from what I understand is that she has no family.Very sad all around, there are no winners here.RIP John.

5/22/2009 6:33:30 PM

Probation can include things like community service and jail.


5/22/2009 7:36:13 PM

Posted by mjack on May 22, 2009 at 7:36 p.m.

Probation can include things like community service and jail.

And I’m sure she will get some community service in one retrospect or another.I do like the idea of making her clean up trash along 287.

5/22/2009 7:42:21 PM

coolpooh wasted everyone’s time writing:

| She drove when she was inpaired by meds just like if she were drinking and driving

Um, No ….Read … the … article … again.

Indeed, maybe the accident wouldn’t have happened had she been taking her meds.

5/22/2009 8:42:21 PM

Perhaps if she killed some rabies infested rodents on the side of the road she would get a stiffer punishment. She should not be allowed to drive again, face civil charges, and at least get a couple years in prison. If people feel sorry for the old slag, then perhaps early release but such negligence deserves seeing the inside of a cell for at least a little while!


5/22/2009 9:31:34 PM

So I take it Doug that we should just say awww por john and pat her on the back and let her go on her merry way here cause she is old and needs meds and she didn’t mean to do it?


5/22/2009 9:49:19 PM

She should not be driving ANY MORE!


5/22/2009 9:51:25 PM

While the manner of John Breax’s death is terribly tragic, punishing this women is not the solution. Here’s why.

Punishment by the criminal justice system assumes that the defendant is capable of acting rationally, and can be deterred from further criminal conduct by punishment. That would not only include sober drivers who carelessly or recklessly kill someone while driving, but also includes drunk or drugged drivers, because in the instance of DUI, the driver is “capable” of acting rationally at the moment prior to intoxicating himself or herself, and can be deterred from again becoming intoxicated before driving by punishment.

But none of the above is what happened in the present case.

This woman obviously has dementia of such severity that she literally lacks the brain capacity to function rationally, and is therefore not a rational actor in a legal sense and by virtue of that cannot be deterred by punishment.

In other words, the legal function of punishment cannot be served by punishing her because her demented brain rendered her incapable of distinguishing right from wrong with respect to driving a car on the day that she killed poor John Breaux.

Indeed, punishing this lady for criminal conduct would violate the 8th amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment, since punishing her would serve no purpose, and would therefore be cruel.

What is needed is an appropriate level of supervision to prevent this lady from ever driving again. It sounds as though that is what the District Attorney has in mind with their plea agreement.


5/22/2009 11:15:34 PM

It’s called an accident! God bless everyone involved!


5/22/2009 11:16:56 PM

In keeping with the Breaux’ family’s wish that the lady not go to jail, perhaps she needs to live in a facility where she can be monitored all the time and wear an ankle bracelet like many residents of nursing homes wear in case they slip out a door.

As for Thomas’ insurance company not yet havingpaid compensation for the Breaux family’s loss, I certainly hope that the company pays for the loss of John to his nieces, who adored the uncle who shared their home.

Those of us who have lost a child know the unrelenting pain. John’s brother and his wife loved and cared for John and are suffering anguish as though they were his parents.

We as a community miss John every day and have honored him with our memorial donations and community service.

It’s time for the insurance company to pay up.


5/23/2009 4:57:10 AM

“It’s called an accident!”

No, it’s called “criminally negligent homicide”.


5/23/2009 5:55:54 AM

Imagine if a 20 year old college student did something like this…they would look them up without remorse for years, and nobody would be calling it an “accident” whether it was or not.But since this elderly woman is driving with a “condition” she gets to walk away from inadvertantly murdering someone for almost nothing.If she can’t fully grasp what’s going on around her all the time…what is she doing behind the wheel of a car?

Maybe I should go drop some acid and start shooting at homeless people downtown…since I won’t be able to fully grasp what’s going on, if I accidentally kill one of them I can’t get into any trouble, can I?


5/23/2009 6:21:22 AM

Isnt Klein the same Judge that sided with the land thieves in Boulder?


5/23/2009 7:54:58 AM

BoulderReader, well said. I just wish some of the folks here would actually read it, then reading it, would actually understand what was written.


5/23/2009 8:04:51 AM

Did any of you poeple actually read the article? Green4Colorado said he/she say Thomas right after the accident. Well, I guess that should bear greater weight in acourt than mere toxicology tests huh? The article clearly states the woman has a mental condition.

I understand the sense of loss over John’s death but this need for revenge and for this woman to be sent to prison Ijust don’t get. It was a terrible accident and nothing they do to Thomas is going to bring John back or prevent this from happening again.


5/23/2009 9:02:40 AM

If Altzheimer’s or dementia strikes someone in your family, I hope the above know-it-alls have kinder words to say.

It’s not probation.It is a life sentence.


5/23/2009 9:16:14 AM

the continuing crime is that of insurance companies. They take and take and won’t pay what they’ve promised. They should be imprisoned.

John was a wonderful man. No matter how screwed up life could be, he had a smile for everyone.

I’d like to thank the Camera staff for showing his picture to all those that didn’t know him. I’d bet a lot of people knew of him, but not who he was or what became of him.


5/23/2009 12:04:38 PM

This made me wonder what happened to the Boulder driver who killed Matthew Powell last year.

I looked it up and found she only got a misdemeanor careless driving resulting in death. And she was young and sane, just not paying attention.So it looks like Thomas’ sentence is the harsher one.


5/23/2009 3:21:55 PM

The insurance company should be responsible to the brothers. Inexcusable.


If you know someone who’s facilities are compromised, but is still driving, what can you do?

Can a citizen call the police and request that theyassess a person’s ability to meet driving requirements (including vision test, review of medical records, etc)?


5/23/2009 8:12:07 PM

kitty: “She is a woman and as a society we give women sympathy and compassion but not accountability, that would be cruel.”

The StupidOmeter just blew its bulb.


5/23/2009 9:00:07 PM

Posted by mtbdad on May 23, 2009 at 8:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The insurance company should be responsible to the brothers. Inexcusable.

Inexcusable?? Why?? Please explain why she and her insurance company are not liable.

Also, why was she behind the wheel?? She was diagnosed with dementia and still driving….Why??

RIP John.

By the way, Bobcat77.

“She is a woman and as a society we give women sympathy and compassion but not accountability, that would be cruel.” WTF?? A bit sexist, don’t you think??


5/23/2009 10:41:53 PM

If the offender was a man, he’d go away for years.

Must be nice to be a woman and ride the “backlash” to impunity.Good job Jenine D’Ananabelle and all the the other man-haters in Boulder.Enjoy your B.S. free ride.”You’re so, like, righteous and in the strugle…Like…..YEAH….GIRLS KICK A**…AND RARELY DOES A GIRL MAKE HISTORY WHOS NOT A…. YOU GO GIRL…HEY, check out my new Prahna top!!!!!”

Ding f’n Bats.Wrapped in self.

The only thing you hate more than men is yourself and other woman.


5/23/2009 11:40:38 PM

“By the way, Bobcat77.

“She is a woman and as a society we give women sympathy and compassion but not accountability, that would be cruel.” WTF?? A bit sexist, don’t you think??”

Yes, I do think it is a bit sexist, and true.

“Department of Justice figures show that being male increases a murderer’s chance of receiving a death sentence by more than 20 times. And the data repeatedly confirms that men receive higher sentences than women for the exact same crime.

One study, published in Justice Quarterly in 1986, examined 181,197 felonies in California and found that, for the same crime, being male increased the chance of incarceration by 165 percent. Being black, in comparison, increased the chance of incarceration by 19 percent.

Another study, published in Crime & Delinquency in 1989, examined non-accomplice crimes and factored together the number of charges, convicted offenses, prior felony convictions, as well as the race, age, work history and family situation of the accused and found that “gender differences, favoring women, are more often found than race differences, favoring whites.”

In yet another study, published in the International Journal of the Sociology of Law, researchers Mathew Zingraff and Randall Thomson found that being male increases sentence lengths more than any other discriminatory variable.

The bias applies to victims as well as the accused. When Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and Bruce Sacerdote of Dartmouth College examined 2,800 homicide cases randomly drawn from 33 urban counties by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, they found that killing a female instead of a male increased sentences by 40.6 percent. Killing a white instead of a black, in comparison, increased sentences by 26.8 percent.

Even when the exact same type of crime is accounted for, the disparities still persist. For example, a drunk driver who kills a black male receives an average sentence of two years. A drunk driver who kills a white male, four years. A drunk driver who kills a white female, six years.

To those who recognize the problem, gender stereotypes are a major culprit. In a 1991 NCFM report titled “Gender and Injustice,” researchers John Ryan and Ian Wilson suggest the problem stems from stereotypes about women being more innocent, more reformable and less dangerous than men. Barbara Swartz, former Director of New York’s Women’s Prison Project, called it the “chivalry factor” and says, “If there were more women judges, more women would go to jail.” “


5/24/2009 8:20:06 AM

Like a steal locamotive, rolling down the track…He’s gone and nothing’s gonna bring him back.Let the healing begin.


5/24/2009 11:52:03 AM