DENVER – A former U.S. Forest Service worker was released from federal prison on Monday after serving a six-year term for starting the worst wildfire in Colorado's recorded history.
Terry Lynn Barton, 44, was released from a prison in Fort Worth, Texas, said Juan Segovia, a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Barton, 44, pleaded guilty to state and federal arson charges stemming from the 2002 Hayman Fire, which blackened 138,000 acres, destroyed 133 homes and forced more than 8,000 people to evacuate.
She was a fire spotter for the U.S. Forest Service at the time and originally claimed she had found an illegal campfire and tried to extinguish it. She later admitted setting the fire by burning a letter from her estranged husband.
Barton served 6-year state and federal terms concurrently and now faces 15 years of state probation and four years of federal probation.
She was ordered to pay $14.7 million in restitution to the federal government and state prosecutors are seeking an additional $27.5 million in restitution. A judge has not yet ruled on the state request.
State and federal prosecutors say it will be up to Barton's probation officers to arrange payments on the restitution debt.
A call to Barton's public defender was not immediately returned.
A Colorado district judge originally sentenced Barton to a 12-year term on the state arson charge, double the normal sentence, citing aggravating factors.
Barton's attorneys appealed, arguing the judge shouldn't have handed down the sentence because he lived near the fire and had to voluntarily evacuate his house.
A state appeals court overturned the extra six years, saying only a jury had the authority to find aggravating factors.