Man sentenced on federal charges
U.S. District Court Judge Edward Nottingham Friday sentenced James Douglas Roe to five years and three months in prison for falsifying information on an application to buy a gun at the Frisco Wal-Mart. Roe was out on bond pending appeal of another case.
According to Jeff Dorschner, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Roe will serve the federal sentence after he completes the four-year sentence he currently is serving. That sentence is for his part in the death of a Keystone man and the serious injury of a Silverthorne woman in a 1996 accident in which logs on Roe’s truck struck another car. The judge could have sentenced Roe to as many as 10 years in prison on the federal charges.
Heather Adam, the passenger in the car, said she was surprised the judge sentenced him to only five years.
“That’s good? I’m still having a hard time thinking he got four years for killing someone,” she said. “He doesn’t care about human life at all.”
Dorschner, however, said he thought it was an appropriate sentence, given the circumstances. Under federal sentencing guidelines, the judge must take into consideration the serious nature of the crime – in Roe’s case, lying on an application form – and the defendant’s criminal history. While the severity of the crime wasn’t too great, Dorschner said, Roe’s extensive criminal background likely led the judge to opt with the longer sentence.
“Some defendants have been sentenced for lying on gun applications and received probation,” he said. “This is one of the longest sentences we’ve seen in a case involving lying on an application to buy a gun since the law was enacted in the mid-1990s.”
Additionally, Dorschner said, the judge could have given Roe credit for the time he is currently serving.
Adam said she’s glad he’s locked away.
“I’d like to think people learn something in prison, but prison has taught him a lot of (bad) things,” she said. “The best thing is he won’t be able to hurt people. That’s a blessing.”
Aug. 10, 1996
Roe was originally convicted on charges of careless driving resulting in death and careless driving resulting in serious injury in an Aug. 10, 1996, wreck on Highway 9 north of Breckenridge. Roe was hauling logs from the Silver Shekel neighborhood and turned left from Highway 9 into the Stan Miller excavation lot.
Prosecutors and their witnesses contended during the trial that Roe’s logs pivoted into the passing lane – and into the windshield of a car – when he turned into Miller’s lot. The defense argued the driver of the car briefly crossed into Roe’s left turn lane and crashed into the logs. The driver of the car, Mark Berndt, was killed instantly; Adam was seriously injured. The jury opted for the lesser conviction of careless driving.
The case resulted in two mistrials before the jury in a third trial found him guilty. That conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals in the fall of 2000 because of a technicality. The appeals court sent the case back to district court, where it was tried a fourth time, and Roe was found guilty on the two careless driving charges and sent to jail.
It was while that case was being reviewed that Roe attempted to buy a .22-caliber rifle at the Frisco Wal-Mart Aug. 30, 2000. According to U.S. District Court files, Roe indicated on one of the forms that he’d never been convicted on any charges that could have garnered him a year or more in prison. He also indicated he was neither under indictment for any crime nor subject to a court restraining order. Roe’s ex-wife, Kimberly, had placed a restraining order against him.
The Wal-Mart clerk who assisted Roe called the Colorado Bureau of Investigation for a required background check; bureau officials denied the sale, citing Roe’s previous felony convictions.
Those included a first-degree robbery in 1976 in San Diego, assault with a deadly weapon in 1984 in San Diego, possession of a dangerous weapon in 1984 in Larimer County and willful destruction of wildlife in 1987 in Larimer County.
According to U.S. Assistant District Attorney Bill Taylor, Roe also knew of the pending charges in the Breckenridge case, in which the judge could have chosen to imprison him for more than a year for each.
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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