May 15, 2013 8:21 PM by Andy Koen
COLORADO SPRINGS - The first people to be convicted of burglarizing evacuated homes in the Mountain Shadows neighborhood during the Waldo Canyon Fire were issued heavy sentences Wednesday.
Shane Garrett, 35, was sentenced to 48 years in prison with 5 years of mandatory parole. Belinda Wells-Yates, 39, was sentenced 72 years in prison with a mandatory 8 years of parole.
When issuing his sentence, District Court Judge David Shakes made clear that the sentences were not based on the emotion the Waldo Canyon Fire, but rather on state law. Both Garrett and Wells were found to be habitual criminal offenders.
Garrett had previously been convicted of four separate felonies, and Wells had been convicted of three.
Shakes determine Wells should serve an additional 24 years consecutively for a separate identity theft conviction along with the 48 years given for the burglary conviction.
Her defense attorney described the burglaries as crimes of opportunity saying Wells was simply trying to support a methamphetamine addiction. Prosecutors characterized her as the ring leader of the pair.
Deputy District Attorney Natalie Mitchell said the community is safer with the two defendants serving lengthy sentences.
"The sentences were reflective of not only their roles in these unconscionable burglaries during the midst of the Waldo Canyon Fire, but also their choices and convictions up to this point," said Deputy District Attorney Natalie Mitchell.
"They both have lengthy criminal histories this being the fourth conviction for Ms. Wells and the fifth felony conviction for Mr. Garret."
Garrett and Wells were convicted of burglarizing the home of Chris and Carole White and writing checks with stolen personal and business checkbooks. The White's said after the sentencing that they believed the judge was fair.
The public defender representing Wells has already signed on to be her attorney during the appeal.
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