Judge Delays Ruling in Case That Could Affect Sentence in Hayman Fire

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A judge in Cripple Creek, Colorado delayed a decision Monday that could help determine how much longer Terry Lynn Barton stays in prison for starting the worst wildfire in the state's recorded history.

Barton was originally sentenced to 12 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to state charges of starting the Hayman fire more than four years ago.

But that sentence was thrown out because the state Supreme Court said the judge had incorrectly decided to give Barton a longer-than-normal sentence. The Supreme Court said only a jury -- not a judge -- could make that decision.

Now a new judge is trying to decide how long a prison term Barton should have.

He says prosecutors can withdraw from the plea deal they made with Barton before she is sentenced again. If that happens, it would give them more leeway in trying to keep her in prison.

Barton's lawyer objects to that and want the judge to reconsider. The judge says he wants to consider other court cases the defense brought up before he decides.

Barton is serving a simultaneous sentence on federal charges stemming from the fire.