Hayman Fire Starter Talks

December 2004

Last year, Terri Barton was the most villified woman in Colorado. She admitted starting the Hayman fire and was sentenced to six years in federal prison, a term she is now serving in a Texas prison camp. A state court judge sentenced her to another six years, but that sentence was overturned this week when the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled the sentence was excessive and that Teller County Judge Edward Cold had a conflict of interest due to his personal experience with the fire.

The court said Colt had helped a court clerk evacuate her home and helped serve food to people displaced by the blaze.

Barton talked about the fire this week with Channel 7's Tony Kovaleski. She admits her "mistake" but doesn't sound particularly grateful for the six year cut in her sentence.

"My lawyer was telling me, 'This is big, Terri, this is big. Merry Christmas" and I'm saying, 'OK I'm still, you know, I'm still in prison' and it doesn't hit you like it hits everybody outside."

The fire burned almost 138,000 acres. 138 homes and a business were destroyed. Prosecutors estimated the damage at $130 million, which Barton will have to repay. Barton, the mother of two daughters, says of her offense:

"Every day it is something I have to live with, trying to figure out why didn't I do something different, and then I can get depressed and then I have to come back out of it and say 'I got to keep going on, I can't sit in prison and be depressed while my girls are out there. I got to be strong for them,'" she said.

Another case with no winners, only losers.