Court refuses to rehear case affecting sentence in Hayman fire |

Court refuses to rehear case affecting sentence in Hayman fire

DENVER – Colorado’s Supreme Court on Monday refused to reconsider a decision that could result in a shorter-than-expected prison sentence for the woman who admitted starting the worst wildfire in the state’s recorded history.Without explanation, the court denied a request to rehear its Nov. 20 ruling in a Montezuma County case with circumstances similar to those of Terry Lynn Barton, who pleaded guilty to arson for starting the Hayman fire in June 2002.The cases were unrelated, but both raised the same question: whether a jury can be seated to consider a longer-than-typical sentence if a defendant has pleaded guilty. In the Montezuma County case, the Supreme Court said no.In Colorado, only a jury, and not a judge, can determine whether the facts of a case justify a longer-than-typical sentence.Prosecutors, defense attorneys and the judge in Barton’s case were awaiting the decision in the Montezuma County case before deciding how to proceed. They were to meet later Monday.The judge in Barton’s case had planned to seat a new jury to consider the appropriate length of her sentence after her 12-year term was thrown out by the Colorado Court of Appeals.Barton is also serving a six-year federal sentence after pleading guilty to charges of setting fire to federal land and making false statements. She also was ordered to pay $42.2 million in state and federal restitution.

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