A federal judge ruled Thursday that Terry Barton's statements about starting the 137,760-acre Hayman Fire are admissible and can be submitted in the case against her.
Her attorneys tried to get the confession suppressed, saying that Forest Service investigators didn't advise her of her right to remain silent before
she made her statements.
But, one of the investigators testified that there was no need to advise Barton, 38 (pictured, right), of her rights because she was not under arrest at the time.
Barton faces four federal charges, including arson, for allegedly starting the largest wildfire in Colorado history that destroyed at least 133 homes and cost more than $39 million to fight. She pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The Hayman Fire started June 8 north of Lake George, Colo., and took almost a month to contain. It still has not been declared officially out.
Barton, a Forest Service worker at the time, was in charge of patrolling the area around Lake George to look for illegal campfires. She had been a
seasonal forestry employee for 18 years and a probationary full-time employee for a year.
In her statements to investigators, Barton claims to have burned a letter from her husband in a campfire ring.
Prosecutors alleged she started the fire at a forest service campsite, then reported a suspicious vehicle in the area to throw investigators off her trail.
According to U.S. Forest Service investigators, it took only a few seconds in the hot, dry conditions for a small campfire to begin roaring through the surrounding trees.
The U.S. attorney also says Barton voluntarily handed over a matchbook from her truck, telling investigators the missing matches were the ones she used to start the fire.
Barton was fired from the Forest Service on June 22. Her trial is scheduled to begin Jan. 6.
Barton's two teen daughters are staying with her sister in California since the family has received several death threats.
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