Guilty of menacing and false imprisonment
A man who was accused of multiple felonies including kidnapping and sexual assault in Crested Butte last summer may be free to walk the streets again in the summer of 2008.
On February 11 Gunnison District Court Judge Stephen Patrick accepted a plea agreement in a case involving Randy Kent Clay, 51, of Parker, Colo. and an unnamed Denver woman, 50, who was allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted last summer. In the agreement Clay pled to felony menacing and false imprisonment, both class 5 felonies.
Clay was first arrested by Mt. Crested Butte police officers on Monday, July 30, 2007. That day, Clay and the victim visited the Gas Café, and when Clay entered to buy a soft drink, the woman cried to a passerby that she was in danger and then fled into the back of another person’s car.
Officers apprehended Clay on suspicion and located the victim. After officers took the woman’s report, Clay was arrested and charged with kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault, both class 2 felonies.
He was held in the Gunnison County Detention Center on $150,000 bond.
Several search warrants were issued in the Crested Butte area the following day to find the man’s campsite. “He secreted her in a campsite it took us three weeks to find… We collected an incredible amount of evidence,” Mt. Crested Butte police chief Hank Smith says, including DNA samples taken from twine and duct tape used to detain the victim.
Smith says Clay told another Mt. Crested Butte police officer that in recent years he had taken several other female captives to the campsite for extended stays without being caught.
Gunnison District Attorney Myrl Serra says after the initial charges, the Mt. Crested Butte police and District Attorney’s office continued to collect more evidence and testimony from the parties. After further investigation of the case Serra says, “It became pretty apparent she wasn’t kidnapped, she went of her own free will. Was she menaced? Absolutely. Was she sexually assaulted? Probably not.”
Smith also agrees that the woman went of her own free will.
Serra says there are two kinds of menacing, and Clay got the felony version because of his use of weapons, including a large buck knife. “If I ball up my fist and say I’m going to hit you, that’s menacing. If I use a gun, or pretend with my finger that I have a gun, that’s felony menacing,” Serra says.
Clay also pled to False Imprisonment, which can be a misdemeanor under Colorado law unless force is involved or the subject is detained for more than 12 hours. In this case False Imprisonment is also a class 5 felony.
Although Class 5 felonies, by state statue, typically mean one to three years in prison, Serra says Clay was sentenced to one year in the Department of Corrections based on both charges. “It was stipulated. That means the parties have agreed to it and the defendant cannot ask for reconsideration,” Serra says. In some situations a defendant can ask the judge to reconsider a sentence after it is given.
Serra says in a plea agreement there is no trial, and courts do not have to accept plea bargains. However there is a hearing before the judge in which both parties may be present.
Smith says the victim may not have approved the plea agreement as stipulated. According to the hearing minutes, he says, the victim was trying to call the District Attorney’s office before the hearing, and was then given a direct number to the court. But for some reason, Smith says, she never got through. According to the minutes she did not call in a timely fashion Smith says.
Smith also says neither he nor the Mt. Crested Butte police department were notified of the hearing. Smith says he believes the plea agreement is a rather light sentence compared to what Clay was facing with charges of kidnapping and sexual assault.
Smith says he believes if the additional evidence was weighed in a full trial Clay may have received more than a one-year sentence. Smith says Judge Patrick may not have even seen the additional evidence; “I can’t imagine it wouldn’t have shocked his conscience.”
Serra says Clay is currently being released from the Gunnison County Detention Facility to the Colorado Department of Corrections to serve his year sentence. “He gets a credit for the time he’s been in jail,” Serra says. As of February 11, Clay had been in the Gunnison County Detention facility for 197 days.
Smith says Clay will undergo rehabilitation before he is transferred to a jail cell. “Typically prisoners go to a thing called Denver Regional Diagnostics Center. They’re analyzed to determine what level of security they should be subjected to,” he says. Smith says that can take up to 90 days, and will also count toward the sentence.
Clay may also get paroled, but Serra says it’s up to the Department of Corrections to decide when, based on the nature of the crime, his criminal history and the efforts of rehabilitation. According to Smith, Clay spent three years in a Florida State Penitentiary for an unrelated armed robbery case.
Smith says it is also typical for the Department of Corrections to reduce a sentence once a prisoner is transferred.
“He may never spend a day in a state penitentiary,” Smith says. “I can’t describe how it makes me feel.”
“The only reason he had a campsite concealed as well as it was, was he had all along in his mind to hold her against her will and make her do whatever he wanted,” Smith says.