Glenwood Springs stalker sentenced to year in jail
September 17, 2018
A 53-year-old Glenwood Springs man charged with three counts of misdemeanor harassment for following a group of minor girls in a public place earlier this summer faced sentencing at the Garfield County Courthouse Monday.
Ninth District Judge Paul H. Metzger, after hearing from the prosecution and testimony from three of the victims' parents, as well as the defense's argument, sentenced James Sandridge to a total of 14 months (six months each for the first two counts and 60 days for the third) in the Garfield County Jail, plus three years of supervised probation for the three misdemeanor counts.
Sandridge is to serve the two six-month terms consecutively and will receive credit for the 88 days he had already served while in custody awaiting sentencing since the June 21 incident.
On that day, just a few days after being released from the Pitkin County Jail where he served 31 days after pleading guilty to a similar incident in Aspen last spring, Sandridge began talking to three teen girls, all under the age of 18, who were near the Roaring Fork River confluence by the Glenwood Springs River Trail.
According to an arrest affidavit filed with the court by Glenwood Springs Police, "Sandridge then stopped with another unknown male and was watching them as they were sunbathing." The affidavit further details that, "Sandridge just stared at them, and this made them all uncomfortable."
After the three girls left, Sandridge continued following them on a bike toward Eighth Street asking them how old they were.
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According to the affidavit, the teen girls, after telling Sandridge that they "did not want to talk to him," were able to call police when they arrived at the bus stop on Seventh Street.
On Monday, prosecutors with the 9th District Attorney's Office argued that the 31 days Sandridge previously served in Pitkin County Jail did not send the message it needed to, and that Sandridge, if released, would pose further risk to the public. The prosecution also stated how the victims no longer felt safe in the town they grew up in and call home.
The victims' families described what they said was a tremendous amount of anxiety their children now experience as a result of the incident, calling it "a sad state of affairs."
Family members were also concerned not only for their daughters' safety but for other children in the community and the risk Sandridge posed if released. One of the victim's letters read before court stated, "I want to feel safe in my hometown again, and with James Sandridge is on the streets, I can't."
However, Sandridge's public defender stated that he had never threatened or forced himself on anyone, nor had he ever been convicted of a violent offense. The defense also made note of the defendant's service in the U.S. Navy.
While Judge Metzger said it was important to note that Sandridge was a veteran, Metzger agreed with Sandridge's probation officer's assessment that he required a high level of confinement, as well as mental-health treatment.
According to the prosecution, Sandridge himself stated at one point, "This is some kind of government scam," and before his sentencing stated to the court, "There are so many inaccuracies from that story that I can't even begin to address them."
Sandridge will now begin serving his first six months for count one, followed by another six months for count two, and an additional 60 days in jail for count three, after which he will remain on supervised probation for three years.
(Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from the version that appears in print to reflect the total sentence of 14 months; 2 consecutive six-month terms, plus 60 days.)