Convicted Waldo Canyon Fire Burglar Receives 72-Year Sentence

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A couple convicted for burglarizing evacuated homes during the Waldo Canyon Fire have found out how many years they will spend behind bars.

Shane Garrett and Belinda Wells-Yates

Shane Garrett was sentenced to 48 years in prison. His accomplice, Belinda Wells-Yates was sentenced to 48 years plus another sentence of 24 years. Those sentences will run consecutively for a total of 72 years in prison.

"These acts were revolting, they were repugnant--the judge did the right thing," said District Attorney Dan May.

May had strong words last summer for anyone considering taking advantage of the plethora of empty houses, promising to "evacuate" anyone convicted of burglary from the community for "many, many years."

Garrett and Wells-Yates were arrested last summer after an undercover agent convinced them to meet him in Monument under the guise of selling some of the stolen items. The agent said he had been tipped off after Wells-Yates called him on June 26 and said she was going to be "hitting houses" in the Rockrimmon area.

The pair was reportedly in possession of stolen checkbooks, guitars and electronics at the time of their arrest, as well as meth.

The undercover agent later testified that he asked the suspects how they'd gotten into the houses without setting off an alarm. He says they told him they crawled through a dog door.

"It’s not harsh enough," said Nellie Martin, a neighbor of the victims. "They should be away for life they took advantage of people when they were at their lowest point."

Prosecutors say the effects of the crime are still very fresh for the victims. Their security is shaken. Their neighbors are sympathetic and expected justice.

"I think what they did was unconscionable, and unfortunately somebody needs to be made an example of--and in this case it's them," said John Carrigan, another neighbor.

Jurors told 11 News in February that they had no problems agreeing on a verdict.

"It all turned out to be unanimous that it was guilty across the board," said juror Randy Stevenson. "Both sides did an excellent job, excellent job--the prosecution, the defense. It really just boiled down to the facts."




 
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