Judge reduces sentence of man convicted in slaying

Posted on 18 Mar 2009 at 2:09pm
By Associated Press

Appeals court said prior misdemeanor conviction used improperly to enhance sentence

MONTROSE, Colo. — A judge on Monday, March 16 reduced by 10 years the sentence of one of two men convicted in the 2005 slaying of an openly gay man in Montrose.

Jason Fiske was resentenced following an appeals court ruling that a prior misdemeanor conviction was improperly used to give him more than the maximum six-year sentence for reckless manslaughter and robbery. Fiske had pleaded guilty to those charges in the strangulation death of Kevin Hale.

Montrose County District Judge James Schum cut Fiske’s original 22-year sentence to six years on each charge, to be served consecutively, leaving Fiske a total of 12 years in prison, minus more than three years for time served.

Hale, 36, died after an altercation with Fiske and Adam Hernandez at a Montrose park.

Hale had told police he’d been threatened because he was gay, and his death sparked fears that he was targeted because of his sexual orientation. Advocacy groups called for hate-crime charges, but prosecutors declined to file them.

Hernandez told investigators that he, Fiske and Hale had been at a bar, where Hale made sexual advances toward Hernandez. Fiske told police that a fight broke out and he put Hale in a choke hold. He also told police he thought Hale was unconscious when they left him in the park, court records said.

Defense attorney said they were pleased with Fiske’s resentencing. But Hale’s family said they were upset that Fiske could soon be up for parole.

"We’ll have a murderer out free," Hale’s uncle, Larry DeVinny said after court.

Hernandez is serving an eight-year prison term after pleading guilty to manslaughter and theft in Hale’s death.

Information from The Montrose Daily Press, www.montrosepress.com.

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