Mesa County man’s sentence proper, appeals court rules
The Colorado Court of Appeals on Thursday said a Mesa County man’s conviction and sentence in 2010 did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Ronald Firm, 52, who is serving a 30-year prison sentence, argued on appeal that evidence in his trial showed he acted as a complicitor but that he was wrongfully sentenced under a section of Colorado’s aggravated robbery law that exposed him to harsher penalties.
Firm was convicted of aggravated robbery, but argued his complicitor status in the crime should have resulted in a lesser sentence.
The Court of Appeals noted equal protection is violated when two laws impose different penalties for identical conduct, and that a person is convicted and sentenced under the statute with the harsher penalty.
Firm was charged in connection with an incident which also involved his son after they both went to a home to a collect an unpaid debt. When the victims refused to pay, Firm’s son lifted his shirt in front and showed he had a handgun.
Firm and his son threatened to kill the victims if they called police and also took property as collateral for the debt.
“Once a complicitor undertakes to aid in the commission of the substantive offense, he bears the risk of the resultant penalty, including the risk of an enhanced penalty,” the Court of Appeals said its published opinion.
According to the Colorado Department of Corrections, Firm will be eligible for parole in December 2031.