DA: Waldo Canyon Fire Looters ‘Earned’ Severe Sentences

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – The sentences handed down this week for two convicted Waldo Canyon Fire looters was longer than those that have been given out for some killers and rapists.

Career criminals Belinda Wells-Yates and Shane Garrett were convicted in February of stealing from Colorado Springs homes that were evacuated during the wildfire. An El Paso County judge on Wednesday sentenced Garrett to 48 years in prison and Wells-Yates to 72 years.

Authorities say the pair climbed through a doggy door of a home at one point as they stole items to feed their meth habit.

Prosecutors said they took electronics, musical equipment, jewelry, a checkbook and keys to a warehouse from one home. Yates also tried to sell stolen information to an undercover officer.

“She thought the undercover officer was a fence so she called him from up there and said ‘I am up here burglarizing homes, would you like to buy it?’ and (the officer) said ‘Sure, let’s get together,’ ” District attorney Dan May said.

CBS4 went to get reaction to the sentencing from residents of the Rockrimmon neighborhood in Colorado Springs, which saw homes burn during last June’s wildfire.

“I think it’s not long enough. I think they deserved life in prison,” said Nellie Martin.

“Yes, they got punished the way I would have liked to see them get punished,” said another resident.

May said the long sentences were in a large part due to Wells-Yates’ and Garrett’s criminal pasts.

“Quite frankly they earned these sentences. It was based partially on their background and being habitual offenders you get your sentence quadrupled in Colorado,” said DA Dan May.

The couple was convicted on charges of second-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary, theft, identity theft and methamphetamine possession.

Both defendants say they are planning to appeal the sentences.

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