Man gets 8 years for long criminal history

Judge says Manley's life has been 'wasted' on criminal history with nine felony convictions

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With his ninth felony, Don Manley got eight years.

"You've made an abysmal waste of your life up to this time," District Judge Paul R. McLimans told Manley at his sentencing hearing Monday. "It appears you have lived your life essentially as a crook."

The judge pointed out that Manley was now pushing "double digits" with his felony convictions.

McLimans sentenced Manley on two new felony charges. Manley pleaded guilty to criminal mischief in excess of $15,000 and violating bail bond conditions. According to court documents, he ransacked a former Craig woman's home and destroyed many of her belongings. The bond violation arose after Manley fled the state and skipped a sentencing hearing in September 2003.

A plea agreement with the District Attorney's office stipulated a six-year sentence for the criminal mischief and two years for the bond violation.

The Moffat County sentence comes on the heels of a four-year sentence Manley received in Montrose County in January.

Looking at Manley's criminal history, and including the new charges, McLimans said he counted nine felony convictions.

The judge said he was concerned that the punishment wasn't adequate, since Manley could have faced 24 years if convicted of being a habitual criminal.

That would have required the District Attorney's office to prove a current felony and document three prior felony convictions.

"You're getting what is a significant break here," McLimans told the defendant.

The fathers of two of Manley's victims were present at the sentencing hearing. They thought Manley got off easy.

"Nine felonies," said George Garrison, whose daughter was a victim in Manley's Montrose case. Garrison continued to mutter the number in the lobby outside the courtroom. "Nine felonies. The court let the country down."

Alvin Lawton is the father of Terry Sakellariou, who is named as the victim in the criminal mischief case.

"I think he got off danged easy," Lawton said. "I thought after three (felonies) that was it."

"And this was nine," Garrison said.

"He should have been put away for life," Lawton said.

Both men said they would like to have seen Manley convicted as a habitual criminal.

The District Attorney's office originally brought that charge, but it was not included in the plea agreement.

Without any witnesses who could testify that they saw Manley destroy Sakellariou's house, "it was going to be a difficult case to prove to a jury," said Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Waite.

Rather than press for the habitual criminal charge and risk losing the case at trial, Waite offered Manley a plea agreement in which that charge was dropped.

"I wish we'd had a stronger case to start out with," Waite said.

"I do agree with the judge," Waite said, "I don't think this sentence will rehabilitate Mr. Manley. But it certainly keeps him from doing any harm for a while."

In addition to the prison time, the judge ordered fines and restitution, including $1,378 in extradition costs to bring Manley back from Texas, and $68,000 for the damage to Sakellariou's property.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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