In cover stories like "Welcome to Arapahell," Alan Prendergast has written about Arapahoe County District Attorney Carol Chambers' frequent use of the "big bitch," aka habitual criminal charges that can double or triple an offender's sentence. Chambers is now gone, replaced by Dave Young, but she landed a big-bitch trophy in absentia when Andrew Terry received a 202 year sentence for, among other things, running over a police officer's foot.
In a November 2011 post about Chambers' use of the big bitch, Prendergast noted that her office had filed 623 habitual cases during 2010 and the first half of 2011 -- an enormous number given that most DAs reserve the tactic for the most dangerous criminals. Not Chambers, though: Prendergast pointed out that more than three-quarters of the time, the technique was employed for nonviolent offenders.
Terry's crimes took place during this time period -- he was arrested in December 2010 -- and his actions unquestionably put the lives of officers and others at risk. But did they deserve two centuries-plus behind bars? Here's the account from the DA's office to help you decide.
On December 17 of that year, a release notes that Westminster police officers tried to contact Terry on suspicion of breaking into vehicles in a parking lot near 88th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard. A high-speed chase followed, with Terry managing to elude capture by crashing his vehicle head-on into a cop car.
Eleven days later, on December 28, officers from the Thornton PD got another shot at Terry. According to the original info we shared in a post around the time of the bust, a report came in at around 7:15 p.m. about an intoxicated driver who'd almost caused an accident in the parking lot of a Walmart, at 7101 East 128th Avenue. The cop who responded to the call quickly spotted the vehicle in question -- a truck -- as Terry was entering it on the driver's side. When the officer told him to get out, Terry slammed the door and sped off instead, running over the policeman's foot in the process.
Continue for more about Andrew Terry's arrest and sentencing below, including a graphic about habitual criminal charges.
What followed was another high-speed chase, this time through portions of Thornton and Commerce City. Along the way, Terry's truck was briefly immobilized near I-76 and 96th Avenue, but he got it going again and aimed it at a Commerce City cop positioned near an interstate entrance ramp.
Fortunately, the officer managed to get out of the way in time, and even fired off a shot that missed its target. However, Terry was captured a short time later at the 9700 block of Steele Street by a member of the Colorado State Patrol, one of several agencies that participated in the bust. The chase was also captured on video by the Denver Police Department's helicopter unit.
For these actions, Terry was found guilty by an Adams County jury this past October of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree assault, criminal trespass, third-degree assault, vehicular eluding and criminal mischief. (Chambers was still in office at the time.) And last week, he received that 202 year sentence whose heftiness can be attributed in part to the habitual criminal multiplier.
Look below to see a larger version of Terry's booking photo, followed by a graphic depicting habitual criminal filings for 2010 and the first half of 2011.
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