Brent J. Brents, suspected of terrorizing Denver’s Capitol Hill last week during a spree in which six women, including a grandmother and the two girls she was babysitting, were sexually assaulted and another woman brutally attacked and stabbed, has been charged with 80 felonies. Friday night was the big dragnet. I live-blogged the action over here, after noting on 5280 that notwithstanding the NBA All-Star events, downtown seemed dead at 7:30 p.m., even at the bar of a fancy, downtown hotel that was host to several big celebrities. I didn’t mention that I had gone to the fancy, downtown hotel bar with two friends. One, Lisa Wayne, as a very young public defender in the 80’s, had represented Denver’s first and quite notorious Capitol Hill rapist, Quentin Wortham, who is now doing 376 years. The other, Carrie Thompson, a current public defender, was getting ready to begin a murder trial Tuesday, and looking forward to her last few days of quiet to complete her final preparation for it. The quiet weekend for Carrie was not in the cards. Here she is, representing Brent J. Brents, at his first court appearance Sunday.
Conviction of any felony sexual assault offense in Colorado now carries a maximum sentence of life. Parole decisions are made by the Sex Offender Treatment Board and Parole Board, not the judge. If Brent J. Brent goes down on one count, he may never see freedom again. According to former prosecutor Karen Steinhauser, the reasons Brent J. Brents only got 20 years for his first adult sexual assault conviction, imposed in 1988 under an older law that allowed judges to impose sentence to a specific number of years, were his youth and the hope of all involved that he might benefit from treatment. He refused to participate in the treatment, finished his sentence, serving a total of 15 years and re-entered society without it.
Brents began the first phase of two-hour-a-day, four-day- a-week group counseling in 1998, when he was about halfway through his prison sentence. Two months into the six-month program, though, he was kicked out for “nonparticipation,” according to Department of Corrections spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti. Brents finished his prison term with no further counseling and left prison without any sort of mandated supervision.
That won’t happen this time if Brent is convicted, due to changes in the law and parole policies for sex offenders. Sex offenders just don’t get released these days without satisfactorily completing treatment. And, the law now requires supervision after release. If Brents is convicted this time around, even on a single felony sex crime, the Department of Corrections has control of him for life — until and unless the Sex Offender Treatment Board recommends his release. Carrie has her work cut out for her on this one.