Man avoids prison in child sex-assault case
A Palisade man who admitted he molested a disabled teenage girl was sentenced Wednesday to serve six years in Mesa County Community Corrections, despite heated objections from his attorney, who suggested his client was poised to fail serving that sentence.
District Judge Valerie Robison imposed the term against 35-year-old Christopher Dewey Booker after an hour-long hearing, which included testimony that Community Corrections would only accept Booker if he’s able to find work, among other conditions.
Booker’s attorney, Adam Tucker, told the judge Booker is unable to work and had been receiving federal disability benefits prior to his arrest.
The judge and Tucker disagreed on the nature of Booker’s disability.
Robison said paperwork she reviewed indicated it stemmed from a bad back. Tucker cited mental health issues, including past suicide attempts.
“Not every job out there requires manual labor,” the judge said. “If he’s rejected (from Community Corrections) on a basis of work, we’ll have another hearing.”
Tucker suggested his client was set up to fail.
” ... You may look at life in prison if you can’t find a job,” Tucker said of his client’s predicament.
Booker reached a plea agreement with the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office calling for a community-based sentence, meaning various types of probation or Community Corrections, in exchange for a guilty plea to a lone count of sexual assault on a child.
Booker was arrested in March 2010 and charged by prosecutors with sexually assaulting a girl from January 2009 through February 2010. The girl suffers from Down syndrome.
Relatives of the victim criticized the deal as too lenient.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Hand told the judge the DA’s office entered into the plea agreement because of concerns about forcing the girl to testify at trial and mental-health ramifications.