By Michael Howell
James Morris Colburn of Stevensville was sentenced last week by Ravalli County District Judge James Haynes on a number of convictions including two separate convictions of incest and convictions of sexual intercourse without consent and two charges of sexual assault against a neighbor child. Both victims were eleven years old at the time.
Haynes sentenced Colburn to 50 years in prison with 25 years suspended on each of the incest convictions. The sentences will run concurrently and Colburn will not be eligible for parole on those convictions for 25 years. Then he can begin serving the three terms for his “deviant sexual activity” with his neighbor’s daughter. On the first count of sexual intercourse without consent he was sentenced to 50 years with none suspended. He was sentenced to 50 years with none suspended on the second count and it will run concurrently with the first count. He was sentenced to another 50 years on a third count of sexual assault and it will run consecutively following the first two concurrent terms for a total of 100 years. Combined sentences on all five counts total 150 years and it means Colburn will serve 75 years in state prison without eligibility for parole. Colburn is currently 39 years old and will not be eligible for parole until he is 114 years old.
Haynes commented at the sentencing that it was appropriate to recall the victims. One was Colburn’s daughter and the other a neighbor’s daughter. Haynes said Colburn “groomed” his daughter to participate in the sexual conduct and said her mother had done everything to passively support her husband. He noted that she denied access to the child. He said the neighbor child had testified that she wanted prison bars between Colburn and herself for the rest of her life. He called the violations of trust “egregious” on Colburn’s part. He noted that the sentencing had nothing to do with Colburn’s possession of pornography, including videos about father/daughter sex.
“This is about hands on violation of your daughter and a friend,” said Haynes.
Colburn’s defense attorney argued for a sentence that would allow the possibility of parole after 25 years. He said Colburn possessed no previous criminal history. He argued for a Tier 1 level offender status and that Colburn be allowed to have contact with his daughter through the mother. He asked that his client get credit for the 361 days served in county jail and that all sentences run concurrently. He also asked that the judge’s comments about Colburn’s “grooming” of his daughter be removed from inclusion in the sentencing record.
Haynes noted that Colburn was found guilty of deviant sexual activity with two eleven year old girls who both testified at trial. He said the neighbor’s father had already pleaded guilty to crimes against his own daughter to spare the girl from having to testify at trial. Haynes said Colburn took advantage of having a sexually charged young girl coming to his home. He said Colburn was still in denial and had not accepted responsibility for his crimes.
“But testimony was compelling and you were convicted,” Haynes said to Colburn, who had opted not to say anything on his own behalf at the sentencing. Haynes designated Colburn a Tier 2 sexual offender and said that could change once the child porn charges are considered. He gave Colburn credit for the 321 days already served but refused to retract the statement about “grooming.”
“Whether you call it grooming or some sort of predation,” said Haynes, “he did it.”