A woman who admitted to starting the Hayman Fire will not do any time in Colorado for sparking the largest wildfire in the state's history, a judge ruled Thursday.
"I feel good. It's done," Terry Barton said, looking relaxed at the hearing.
Barton is currently serving a six-year sentence in a federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas and will be released in June. The state wanted her to also serve time in state prison, but Barton's original state sentence of 12 years in prison was overturned by the Colorado Appeals Court.
"Your honor, I'm not asking for forgiveness, I'm just asking for people to move on with their lives," Barton said in court.
District Judge Thomas Kennedy resentenced her on state charges and ruled she did not have to serve any prison time in Colorado.
"To make sure that we have some ability not only to collect restitution from you but also to make sure that you give something back to this community, I am going to sentence you to a term of 15 years of probation," Kennedy said.
He also ordered her to pay $30 million in restitution and serve 1,500 hours of community service -- or 100 hours each year she's on probation. The community service will have to be served in the four counties impacted by the fire -- Douglas, Jefferson, Teller and Park counties.
"That is the only sentence that I can concoct, Ms. Barton, that would give you an opportunity that would demonstrate that, in fact, you are remorseful for your conduct," Kennedy said.
Barton had pleaded guilty to fourth-degree arson and started serving her federal prison sentence in March 2003.
Kennedy said it would have been meaningless to impose a sentence Barton would never serve. At the most he could have sentenced her to was six years in state prison, but that had to be served concurrently with the federal prison sentence, according to the appeals court ruling.
"You have beneftted by a change in the law which occurred after you pled guilty to this offense," Kennedy said. "But it seems to me that justice requires that there be something that you give back to the members of this community who've been damaged by this conduct."
"It's hard to argue with his logic. In fact, that was the most just thing he could do with our current scenario," said El Paso County District Attorney John Newsome. "With what we're left with today, I think the judge kind have did the only thing he could do."
Four people spoke at the sentencing on behalf on Barton.
"There's a large group of people that are out there supporting her. There has been a significant change in her personality over the last several years. She is calmer, more confident," said Barton's friend, Julie Panek.
No one spoke on behalf of the state.
Barton admitted she was burning a letter from her estranged husband in a fire pit in drought-stricken Teller County in June 2002. The fire quickly grew out of control, fueled by tinder-dry conditions and winds.
Barton at the time was employed by the U.S. Forest Service to look for people violating the fire ban.
The Hayman Fire scorched 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 homes and forced more than 8,000 people to leave their homes.
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