Man will do time for stealing pig statue, appellate court rules

The Colorado Court of Appeals has upheld the 24-year prison sentence of a Mesa County man for stealing a bronze pig statue from downtown Grand Junction.

In a decision announced last week, the appellate court said the sentence handed down in February 2008 by District Judge Valerie Robison was not constitutionally disproportionate, as argued by attorneys for 43-year-old Daniel Vigil.

In handing down Vigil’s sentence, Robison ruled that Vigil was a habitual criminal under Colorado law because of three felony convictions; his theft-by-receiving conviction related to the stolen pig statue was his fourth felony.

“Although Vigil’s triggering offense — theft by receiving — is not a grave or serious offense, his three prior convictions include burglary, which is a grave and serious offense,” Appeals Court Judge Robert Russel wrote in Thursday’s decision.

Russel noted that under California law, which is similar to Colorado’s habitual criminal statutes, sentences of 25 years to life have been handed down for “third-strike” convictions for theft. “Longer sentences have been imposed for less serious offenses without running afoul of the Eighth Amendment,” Russel wrote.

During the jury trial for Vigil, Prosecutors said the city of Grand Junction had paid $3,750 for the bronze pig and paid another $1,000 to have the item restored after its return.

The pig, which had been displayed outside a Main Street business, was found in a vehicle in which Vigil had been living, hidden under a tarp. Vigil denied having the statue when first confronted by a Grand Junction police detective.

The pig eventually was returned to its home at Sixth and Main where it remains today.


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