By Peter Rossi, LAW WEEK COLORADO
DENVER — Jefferson County Public Defender Rex Hegyi is more than an attorney – he is also a skilled musician, a cyclist and a painter.
Hegyi, 52, was injured after he was struck by a vehicle Aug. 17 while he was riding his bicycle on an Interstate 70 ramp west of Denver, allegedly in a hit-and-run by another Colorado attorney, Jeffrey Detlefs. Hegyi was initially placed in intensive care after being airlifted to St. Anthony’s Hospital. Reached by phone in his hospital room earlier this month, Hegyi reported he was doing “OK,” but declined to comment further because he is still recovering.
Earlier this week, a hospital spokesperson confirmed Hegyi has been released.
Meanwhile, in a recent interview with Law Week Colorado, Hegyi’s close friend and fellow Jefferson County public defender Sara Garrido said she does not know when or whether Hegyi plans to return to the public defender’s office.
Speaking generally, however, Garrido described Hegyi as “an extremely accomplished musician,” in addition to being a committed public defender.
“In fact, (music) was his profession for years before he went to law school,” Garrido said.
Hegyi, she said, attended Fort Lewis College, where he majored in music and played the guitar and fiddle in a bluegrass/country band. He also took his turn singing.
“I’ve seen him sing, and he’s amazing,” Garrido said.
Hegyi also loves cycling, and worked at a bike shop in Durango while he was making his way as a musician. “Not only can he ride a bike, but he can take a bike apart and put it back together,” Garrido said. “When I got my bike, he forced me to change my tire in front of him so I would know how to do it on the road, which I eventually ended up having to do.”
Hegyi, who is married with two elementary school-aged daughters, participates in many organized rides and often rides Lookout Mountain in Golden and to work at the Jefferson County public defender’s office, where he has worked since 1997.
A graduate of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, Hegyi has passion and skill, Garrido said, and has been the go-to source if any lawyer had a question about a case.
“The entire office is always camped out in front of Rex’s office asking him questions, running a case by him, talking jury selection and the facts,” she said. “I can’t even imagine the office without him because he’s so knowledgeable.”
Garrido says her colleague has loved being a public defender. “He’s someone who could do pretty much anything he wants,” she said. “He doesn’t have to be a public defender, but he chooses to do it because he believes in it so much.”
Garrido said she recently spoke with Hegyi, and reports, “He’s in really good sprits,” she said. “He’s mentally been very strong.”
Shortly after the hit-and-run, Detlefs was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, fleeing the scene and child abuse, as he had three children in the car with him. Police found the front license plate of Detlef’s vehicle at the scene of the accident. After the accident, Detlef, an attorney representing insurance companies, and the firm he had long been associated with, Kerr Brosseau Bartlett O’Brien, parted ways, said Marc Brosseau, speaking for the firm.