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July 15, 2012

Record(?)-long sentence of 1,256 years(!) imposed on Colorado bank robber

As reported in this local article, headlined "Convicted bank robber gets 1,256 years in prison," a repeat offender in Colorado state court was given a sentence longer than any sentence I can ever recall.  Here are the details:

After serving part of a six-year sentence for a 2003 bank robbery, parolee Daryl Lamont Keener went right back to his old tricks, authorities say, joining an accomplice in eight more bank heists in Colorado Springs.  It’s unlikely there will be a repeat performance.

Keener, 31, was sentenced Friday to 1,256 years in prison -- a result of Colorado’s stiff sentencing for repeat criminals and one of the most severe penalties in El Paso County’s recent history.   “It’s shocking,” said Shimon Kohn, a defense attorney unaffiliated with the case.  “I’ve been practicing criminal law in this jurisdiction since 2000, and I’ve never heard of these kinds of numbers, ever.”...

Police described Keener as a “career criminal” in announcing his March 2011 arrest, and detailed terrifying scenes in which Keener and a second man took turns storming into banks and ordering people onto the floor at gunpoint.  The men were arrested after detectives linked them to a getaway car captured on tape by a surveillance camera as it fled a March 3, 2011....

Among Keener’s charges related to the spree were multiple counts alleging he is a “habitual offender” – a sentence enhancer with the potential to quadruple penalties. Under Colorado’s sentencing laws, the multiplier would apply to each named victim in every bank robbed by Keener.  Getting to a total in excess of 1,200 years, however, required Judge Prince to exercise his discretion to stack those sentences rather than rolling all eight robberies together for a single triple-digit sentence.

Unless Colorado has some automatic mechanism for reducing time served, as of this writing Daryl Lamont Keener's proejected release date is now the year 3286!  Or, to put a sentence of this number of years into a slightly different perspective, such a long sentence would be concluding now if an offender had gotten sentenced to this extreme term in the year 756.

July 15, 2012 at 06:35 AM | Permalink


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Hardly worth posting this nonsense unless it is to illustrate the depths to which the law is being both abused and made mockery of by attention seeking judges and prosecutors. What is the point of having an interest in the theory and practice of sentencing law when judges start to play childish games with it, apparently with impunity?

Posted by: peter | Jul 15, 2012 11:00:07 AM

And again I would say this is simply a silly story about the system failing to provide for a sentence of natural life but making an impossibly long term of years available as an alternative. If the story were "Man sentenced to life in prison for robberies committed after being released on parole" there would be very little interest in Mr. Lamont's case. Instead, because our lawmakers love to play with sentencing grids as if it were a game of bingo we will continue to see stories like this. But I still fail to see that the unaffiliated attorney has any meritorious complaint. Mr. Lamont will serve as much of the 1256 years as he is able and the rest will be discharged by his death.

Now, if we lived in some science fiction distopia where instant cloning were possible and the legal system allowed clones to serve parts of the overall sentence so that a rich person could escape punishment by paying for 1256 clones to each serve one year of the total sentence, then there might be a legitimate complaint. But we do not live in that world.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 15, 2012 12:57:46 PM

i agree. Sorry but any sentence that calles for more than than even MOSES could have served is retarded and judicial showboating!

a simple

"i sentence you to the REST of your NATURAL LIFE in prison" would have been sufficnet!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 15, 2012 12:59:50 PM

On the other hand, that is the only way to insure that he will die in prison for his crimes. WHen you consider the number of people given a life term get out of prison after serving only a few years in prison, the sentence makes perfect sense.

Posted by: jim | Jul 15, 2012 3:50:02 PM

Perhaps the judge is a Scientologist. Scientology reportedly enters into billion year contracts with its adherents. This belief system affords the defendant in this matter another 9,999,998,744 of time to live his life post-release and thus gives him something to look forward to. When examined with the aforementioned in mind, the sentence can be looked at as a mere slap on the wrist.

Posted by: barry | Jul 15, 2012 3:57:29 PM

Maybe I'm the only who thinks so, but it seems to me there is a possible justification for adding up a bunch of big numbers. Assume for sake of argument that a 20-year-old defendant is convicted of 20 counts of 10 years each, which the judge runs consecutively for 200 years.

Okay, sure--the defendant doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of fulfilling the entire sentence. But what if 15 of the counts are subsequently reversed? Then he's serving 50 years, which means he might get out before his life ends--perhaps less depending on whether the state gives sentence reductions for good behavior, etc.

If you think cases like my hypothetical are legitimate reasons to have a definite term of years, then you would also have to accept the absurd numbers that come with it--such as a case of over 1,000 years.

Posted by: Res ipsa | Jul 16, 2012 10:42:42 AM

". WHen you consider the number of people given a life term get out of prison after serving only a few years in prison..."

Really, Jim? What is "the number" and can you provide an example of even one lifer getting out after only a few years in prison?

Posted by: John K | Jul 16, 2012 11:39:22 AM

The problem is that most statutes do not provide for a sentence of natural life to be imposed, instead requiring a term specified in some amount of time, no matter how impossible the total would be to serve to completion. And even assuming the judges have choices (I don't know whether this particular case was an application of mandatory sentencing or not, but the last long sentence we discussed was), once we agree that a particular offender should be put away for the rest of their life what is the judge supposed to do? Are they to guess at how long the particular individual will live and impose a sentence barely longer than that expected remaining lifespan? That seems like it would be just as much madness as as sentence of 1256 years.

Given the system we have now where for many offenses a sentence of natural life is simply not an available choice I am quite happy with judges simply totaling up the sentence a set of convictions allows for.

I would be all for enacting a general statute on top of our sentencing laws that provides as soon as the total sentence to be imposed reaches 100 years (or 75, or even 50) that it is automatically converted to a sentence of natural life. But I do not see any such change making it through our legislative process any time soon.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Jul 16, 2012 1:47:06 PM

that's nothing. in oklahoma state court my client convicted of rape (after several prior rape convictions) got 10,000 years (1,000 per count). my client could do that standing on his head.

Posted by: rob ridenour | Jul 16, 2012 3:54:36 PM

well soronel i think this type of sentence is part of the same bit of stupidity that has infected our country. Just like an indiviudal can get an EARNED INCOME CREDIT! that can run 1,000's of dollars MORE than they put in.

Sorry in any old dictionary and englsh class if you looked it up you would find that getting a credit would RETURN YOUR MONEY.... NOT SOMEONE ELSES!

what the earned income credit should do is get your taxes to "0"! anytime more like it does now is NOTHING but the legal STEALING from other taxpayers to give it to you!

This is the same. Even if as you say it is not possible to give out a sentece "for the rest of your natural life" simple common sense would tell those counting up any sentence would simpy STOP when they hit a number NO NATURAL HUMAN could POSSIBLE LIVE TOO!

sure the others would still be on the record IF said individual manged to live to see them! but you would not being seeing these idiotic pronoucments in the news!

instead they would be someitign like 57 year old sentenced to 60 years! never mind the extra 999 waiting in the wings!

Posted by: rodsmith | Jul 16, 2012 8:30:57 PM

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