Hayman Fire-Barton

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A former Forest Service employee sentenced by a judge for starting the largest wildfire in Colorado history is scheduled to go before a jury on July 18 as part of her re-sentencing.

Fourth Judicial District Attorney John Newsome says it'll be the first time a jury is empanelled for a sentencing in a Colorado criminal case.

Forty-two-year-old Terry Lynn Barton pleaded guilty to a state felony arson charge for starting the 138,000 acre Hayman fire in 2002 by burning a letter in a drought-stricken area.

District Judge Edward Colt sentenced her to 12 years in prison or double the normal maximum after ruling there were aggravating circumstances.

But the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that a jury, not Colt, should have made that finding.

The court said Barton's sentence was too harsh and had at least "the appearance of prejudice" because Colt was an evacuee of the fire.

Barton also is serving a six-year sentence on federal charges for the fire.

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