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Durango man sentenced to 24 years in prison for witness tampering in domestic violence case

Christopher Clark says he will appeal jury conviction

Christopher Clark, 43, was sentenced to 24 years in state prison on Thursday. A jury found Clark guilty of tampering with a witness, a felony, as well as several misdemeanors in May.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Todd Norvell sentenced Clark to 72 months in La Plata County Jail, which are to be served concurrently to Clark’s 24-year sentence.

Clark

In addition to witness tampering, Clark was convicted on multiple counts of violating a protection order, obstructing a peace officer and violating bail bond conditions.

He previously pleaded not guilty on all counts except obstructing a peace officer.

The prosecution consisted of 6th Judicial District Deputy District Attorney-Appellate Sean Murray and Deputy District Attorney Vance Davis.

Clark, who was deemed a habitual offender, has a troubled history that was referenced by both the defense and prosecution in their arguments leading up to sentencing.

Davis said Clark twice attempted to engage in sexual conduct with a child, twice failed to register as a sex offender and in one instance had fled in a vehicle from police.

Davis said Clark’s victim struggled with substance abuse that intensified after Clark violated protection orders she had placed.

The attorney said Clark’s past actions are the reason why the legal term “habitual offender” exists as well as why harsher repercussions for people deemed habitual offenders are often applied.

In March 2020, Clark had been accused by a woman of sexual assault at a Durango motel and then assaulting her in the 2500 block of Main Avenue.

Davis said as police arrested Clark, he shouted, “Check my criminal history, (expletive).”

In May, Clark was found not guilty of committing sexual assault, two assault charges and a menacing charge.

Davis said a sentence of 24 years would send a message to Clark, to future potential offenders and to society at large that the actions Clark had taken won’t be tolerated.

Defense attorney Heather Little asked the court for a sentencing that would place Clark into supervised services rather than prison.

She said Clark had a childhood ripe with abuse that caused him to be removed from his family home and placed in foster care. In early adulthood, Clark was often incarcerated.

Clark grappled with substance abuse and homelessness with little opportunity for employment or to seek help through support services, Little said.

She said when Clark was arrested in March 2020, he was panhandling for money and living in a motel room.

Clark made no statement before sentencing based on the advice of his attorney. He did however inform the court at the end of the hearing that he intends to appeal his conviction.

cburney@durangoherald.com

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