USA — Terry Barton is due to be released from federal prison this summer – the sixth anniversary of the worst wildfire in Colorado’s history, which she started.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Thomas Kennedy on Thursday resentenced Barton to 15 years of probation and 1,500 hours of community service, bringing an end to years of legal wrangling by prosecutors from the four counties affected by the Hayman Fire.
Barton told the judge: “I’m not asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for people to get on with their lives.”
Her 12-year prison sentence on a state charge was tossed out by the Colorado Court of Appeals in 2004 because of the way the original judge handled her case.
Barton, 44, is serving the remainder of a six-year sentence on federal charges for starting the 2002 Hayman Fire. She’s scheduled to be released from Texas federal prison in June, according to her attorney.
Once she’s released, Barton will have seven days to check in with 4th Judicial District probation officials. Her new sentence on the state charge will be retroactive to 2003, meaning she’ll be subject to community service and probation check-ins until 2018.
During a drought and fire danger in June 2002, Barton, a U.S. Forest Service fire spotter, reported that a fire had started in a campground northwest of Lake George. About a week later, she was arrested after admitting she started the fire by burning a letter from her estranged husband.
The fire burned 137,000 acres in the Pike National Forest and destroyed 133 homes.
“The results of your conduct will be visible long after everyone in this courtroom is dead, and after their children are dead,” Kennedy said Thursday. “That burn and scar on the mountainside will continue.”
The maximum sentence Kennedy could have imposed was six years in prison. Because the plea agreement stipulated Barton get credit for state time while serving her federal prison sentence, she would have already completed that state sentence, Kennedy said.
Kennedy ordered Barton to perform at least 100 hours of community service per year, and that service be done in one of the four counties in which the fire raged for weeks.