BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – A judge sentenced a Boulder man to nine years in prison for setting fire to a barn, causing four horses to die in 2017. Christopher Reyes was also sentenced to five years of parole, plus eight consecutive years on supervised probation with rehabilitative terms and conditions.
In May of 2020, Reyes pleaded guilty to seven felony counts, including first degree arson, criminal mischief, retaliation against a victim/witness, and four counts of cruelty to animals.
On Oct. 1, 2017, emergency crews responded to a barn fire. The property owners, David Reyes and Ronda Hackbart-Reyes, told deputies they locked the barn after feeding and boarding their horses.
David Reyes said he was not certain how the fire started, but thought it might have been his son, Christopher. David suspected problems with their relationship with their son was the motive.
Investigators found four horses which died in the fire. In all, there was about $200,000 worth of damage and loss. Investigators found a lighter and pair of binoculars near the barn that were later tested and revealed the defendant’s DNA.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Erica Baasten stated that Christopher’s crimes were “Calculated, vengeful, and hateful acts.”
Christopher was arrested two days later on suspicion of driving under the influence near Richfield, Utah. During that arrest, Utah Highway Patrol noticed large burns on his hands.
The arrest affidavit stated he may have a history of mental health issues, and he would become more violent against his father and stepmother if they stopped giving him money.
“This was a horrific case, both in terms of what the defendant did to the horses and to his own family. Cases involving animal cruelty and witness intimidation are among the most egregious, so this long sentence is entirely appropriate,” said District Attorney Michael Dougherty at the sentencing hearing.