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Probation violations earn four years probation

By Randi Pierce

Staff Writer

Allen Vanness, the former Pagosa Springs resident sentenced last December for his role in a rash of eight 2011 burglaries, was resentenced in District Court on Sept. 4, to four years of probation.

In November, Vanness pleaded guilty to one count of burglary, a class-four felony and, in December, was sentenced by District Court Judge Greg Lyman to three years of probation, as well as to community service and restitution.

Then, in July, Vanness was back in court on probation violations for three existing cases — one of which his attorney, John Baxter, argued had expired and was no longer pertinent.

The probation violations admitted in court that day included testing positive for use of marijuana.

An August sentencing hearing was postponed when the court system received news that Vanness had not been accepted to a community corrections program in Denver — an outcome all parties had agreed would be a good option.

At a Sept. 4 sentencing hearing, Baxter said no reason was given as to why Vanness was not accepted into the program, but maintained that providing Vanness the option to live in Denver — where he lived and worked at the time of the probation violations — would give Vanness the chance he needed to succeed.

Baxter, as well as Vanness’ mother and a former employer, spoke of Vanness’ best chance of success coming in Denver, where he had a steady job.

“I think Allen means well,” Baxter said.

Deputy District Attorney Alex Lowe, though, was not on the same wavelength, stating that Vanness has been given numerous chances, but still had three felony convictions and was not yet 20.

“Every time Mr. Vanness comes to court we get to hear about how he wants to turn his life around,” Lowe said. Because of that and with community corrections not an option, Lowe recommended the judge sentence Vanness to two to four years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

“I’ve tried to make changes to where I don’t get in trouble,” Vanness said, noting that Denver has been a positive influence for him, whereas it was hard to stay away from negative influences in Pagosa.

Lyman then sentenced Vanness to four years of probation, with that probation transferred to Denver.

“I can’t keep putting it off,” Lyman said of sending Vanness to prison, urging him to treat counseling as an option. “Good luck. I don’t want to see you again.”

randi@pagosasun.com

This story was posted on September 13, 2012.