Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — Clark Potter made his way out of the state prison system and into Alamosa, but after an early release on parole, he’s heading right back where he came from.
Twelfth Judicial District Judge Pattie Swift on Tuesday sentenced the 31-year-old felon to 10 years behind bars for the crime of second-degree burglary; she also ordered him to pay more than $6,500 in restitution.
Potter pleaded guilty in March to the enhanced Class 3 felony, which carries a harsher penalty because he broke into a dwelling instead of a business.
The case dates back to Dec. 12, 2012, when he backed his truck up to an Alamosa woman’s home and stole many of her belongings.
Judge Swift said the offense is all the more alarming because the victim in the case lives on her own.
“It’s the kind of thing that makes a person feel very unsafe,” she said.
The crime itself is bad enough, she said, but the fact that Potter was on parole at the time is highly concerning to the court.
As she looked back on his criminal history, she told him that the court must consider the question of public safety.
“Your prior record leads me to believe that you are going to commit more offenses,” she said.
According to the court, Potter has seven prior felony convictions for various crimes, which range from theft to forgery and escape.
In 2007 alone, he was convicted of three felony offenses in El Paso County, and a judge there sentenced him to a combined total of 16 years in state prison.
Less than 18 months later, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for three new offenses in El Paso County.
Potter’s original term, which was reduced to a concurrent total of 10 years, was scheduled to run until July 2016. But he became eligible for parole in October 2010, and eventually wound up in Alamosa.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Loy had asked the judge to impose a 12-year sentence, based on Potter’s criminal record, and the fact that the defendant was on parole when he committed the local offense.
Deputy Public Defender Amanda Hopkins said she did not disagree that Potter has previous felony convictions on his record. But she told the court that none of the offenses were violent.
In this case, Potter was “extremely compliant” with authorities, and he took full responsibility for his actions, she said.
Potter spoke briefly to the court, apologizing to the victim in the case.
“I know I made a stupid decision,” he said.
Under the terms of his latest sentence, Potter is not entitled to credit for time served in jail. Once he’s released from the Colorado Department of Corrections, he will be required to serve a mandatory three years of parole.