Judge favors treatment over prison for habitual offender in Summit, Grand counties
BRECKENRIDGE — A habitual criminal in the area will avoid prison time on a number of charges dating as far back as summer 2017 after a judge determined a dedicated treatment program would serve the man better than a lengthy Department of Corrections sentence.
Derrick Ray Linzie, 47, was sentenced to a year in jail during a wide-ranging sentencing hearing Thursday morning at the Summit County Justice Center. Linzie also will be required to complete an Intensive Residential Treatment program.
At the hearing, Linzie was sentenced on six cases, including two relatively new cases from earlier in 2019 along with four that were reopened due to probation violations. Among the charges to which Linzie pleaded guilty were burglary, possession of a controlled substance and child abuse.
In August 2017, deputies with the Summit County Sheriff’s Office arrested Linzie after he was filmed breaking into a home near Copper Mountain, where he stole an antique rifle along with a couple hundred dollars worth of power tools and quarters. Linzie pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary and was sentenced to 90 days in jail in addition to probation.
Trouble began to pop up for Linzie again in 2018. On April 7 of that year, Linzie was arrested and later pleaded guilty to a violation of bail bond conditions after officers with the Dillon Police Department and Sheriff’s Office discovered lock-picking tools and methamphetamine during a search of his vehicle. Later that month, Linzie was arrested again for violation of a protection order after admitting to entering a home he wasn’t supposed to be within 100 yards of. In May, Linzie was busted with about 11 grams of methamphetamine and pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance. He received short jail sentences in each case.
Linzie’s legal woes continued into 2019. In June this year, Linzie crashed a stolen car off Airport Road in Breckenridge while driving with a 7-year-old child. Linzie left the scene of the accident and took the child into the nearby woods, where he was eventually placed into custody. He later pleaded guilty to charges of criminal mischief and child abuse.
While in jail for the child abuse case, police also discovered that Linzie was responsible for another burglary June 14 at the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 in Breckenridge, where he pried open the coin boxes on four arcade games and stole all of the quarters. He later pleaded guilty to another charge of violation of bail bond conditions. The arcade incident is similar to another case out of Grand County, in which Linzie was arrested with two others in March for burglarizing coin machines in Kremmling, Granby and Winter Park. He’s yet to be sentenced in that case.
At the sentencing hearing Thursday, Senior Deputy District Attorney Lisa Hunt pointed to Linzie’s long history of criminal activity in the area and called on the court to impose maximum penalties in the cases, totaling 13 years in prison.
“He has a lengthy criminal history,” Hunt said. “Not only was he picking up additional cases in Summit but also in Grand County, where he’s pending sentencing there. The people’s concern is he’s proven to be such a high risk to reoffend.”
Linzie’s attorney, Monica McElyea, asked the judge to be lenient in the sentence, noting that Linzie has been sober and proactive since being placed into custody in June and that the best course of action would be to assure he can get treatment for his addictions, which McElyea pointed to as the underlying driver of Linzie’s criminal history.
“We’ve heard the court say it’s easy to sit there in jail and go to classes,” McElyea said. “But it’s also easy to sit in jail and sleep the whole time. He’s made the effort to go to classes, to go to church services and to seek out all the help he can receive. … He will continue to do that from the outside.”
Finally, Linzie spoke on his own behalf at the hearing, taking responsibility for his crimes and promising to continue to work on his substance abuse issues.
“I had 15 years sober, and I can do it again,” Linzie said. “But I know I have to fix myself first. Thanks to the programs in the county, I have a good start in getting back on track. I’m powerless over what my sentence might be and what people might think of me. But I do have power over my own recovery, to exert a positive influence over myself, my loved ones and the world I live in.”
Ultimately, Judge Karen Romeo said the biggest factor in sentencing Linzie was the potential risk to the community, but noted she felt Linzie posed less of a risk with proper treatment, instead of sending him to prison where he might return to the community as an even bigger menace.
“If you went to prison for eight to 10 years, you’d be out in five and back in the community with no treatment,” Romeo said. “What does that do to our community? I think it increases the risk. I believe in this recovery court … and I just don’t think prison is the answer. I think you’d come right back here and not be in a very good position.”
Romeo sentenced Linzie to one year in jail, where he’ll stay until a bed opens up at an Intensive Residential Treatment center. There, he will be required to complete a treatment program. Romeo also gave Linzie four years of probation and said that if he failed to complete the treatment program or recovery court, she’d send him straight to prison on an eight-year sentence.
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