Court again upholds 204-year sentence of child molester

DAVID RELAFORD

A man convicted on 27 counts of sexual assault of two children won't see any of his 204-year sentence reduced, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.

Grand Junction resident David A. Relaford, 46, was convicted in 2014 of one count of second-degree kidnapping, 11 counts of sexual assault on a child, two counts of sexual assault on a child as a pattern of abuse, 11 counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust and two counts of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust as a pattern of abuse.

The children were 7 and 8 at the time of the 2011 incidents.

Mesa County District Judge Richard Gurley sentenced Relaford to 24 years on the kidnapping conviction and 180 years to life on the remaining counts, all to be served consecutively.

In his appeal, the second filed by Relaford that also resulted in his conviction and sentence being upheld, Relaford tried to argue that his sentence should be reduced because his court-appointed lawyer was ineffective because that attorney allowed prosecutors to withhold evidence and make improper statements during trial.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court disagreed.

"Relaford argued that trial counsel was constitutionally ineffective for failing to object to certain statements that the prosecutor made during closing arguments," Judge Daniel Dailey wrote in the ruling, which was joined by Judges Diana Terry and Neeti Vasant Pawar.

"He alleged that the prosecutor repeatedly said that he was 'guilty,' stated 'he did these things' to 'satisfy his perverted ways,' and said, 'I want you to find the defendant guilty on all these things because he did these things,'" Dailey wrote. "However, a review of the closing arguments shows that the prosecutor did not state that. Instead, the prosecutor told the jury, 'we will be asking you to find him guilty.' And, at the end of the rebuttal closing argument, the prosecutor asked the jury to find Relaford guilty. These statements were permissible."

In his last appeal, Relaford tried to argue that the jury was unfairly biased by the court for allowing prosecutors to introduce more sex toys and pornographic images and videos than were found at his home than the children testified about.

The court said that didn't substantially influence the verdict or the fairness of the trial.

Relaford is serving his prison time at the Sterling Correctional Facility. His first parole hearing is set for October 2201.