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Man escapes more jail time

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2013

Courier staff writer

ALAMOSA — A Douglas County man who went on a crime spree in Alamosa last summer won’t spend any additional time in jail, as long as he follows the terms and conditions of his probation.

But the consequences of his actions will stay with him for a long time to come.

Twelfth Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift said March 5 that it didn’t make sense to put Harrison Forsyth back in jail at this point, since he’s now employed and enrolled in school.

Instead, she placed him on probation for two years. She also ordered him to complete 75 hours of useful public service, to obtain education and treatment for substance abuse and to complete a mental health assessment.

Yet even if Forsyth complies with the court’s order and stays out of trouble, he won’t be able to hide from the fact that he now stands convicted of attempted third-degree burglary.

“Having this felony on your record is probably going to affect you for the rest of your life,” Judge Swift said.

The 21-year-old Castle Rock man entered a “plea of convenience” last December to a crime that he never actually committed.

From his perspective, though, the plea deal was better than the alternative. The district attorney’s office originally charged him with seven felonies and two misdemeanors.

Police caught Forsyth damaging flower pots near Alta Fuels on July 3, 2012, leading to charges of criminal mischief, resisting arrest, obstructing and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

After follow-up investigations and interviews, they learned that he committed a rash of crimes the week beforehand.

On the night of June 24, he burned an American flag and a state flag at First Southwest Bank, which led to a felony charge of second-degree arson.

Based on video surveillance from that scene, as well as contacts with a person of interest, police tied Forsyth to three car break-ins downtown. Two of those cars were damaged at Alamosa Lumber, where police say Forsyth broke a building window.

Once they added the offenses together, Forsyth racked up additional felony charges of second-degree burglary and first-degree criminal trespass, along with two misdemeanors.

Forsyth told the court last week that his life went astray when he was kicked out of his house.

“I was at a kind of bad place in my life,” he said. “I didn’t care what happened to me.”

But now, he said, he’s hoping to turn his life around.

Judge Swift said she believes that Forsyth is at an age where other people’s property doesn’t matter to him.

He’s capable of doing a lot of good things with his life, she said, but only if he stays in school or remains employed.

In addition to the probation term, the judge gave Forsyth credit for 42 days served.

She also ordered him to pay standard court costs and fees.

However, she left the issue of restitution open until April 4, when she will review prosecutors’ recommendations for more than $2,867 in amends to the victims in the case.

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