DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver man charged in August for eight home burglaries was free to commit the crimes even though he had been sentenced to six years in prison last summer for the robbery of a Home Depot in Golden.
If you’re wondering how it’s possible 43-year-old Joshua Garringer was out free to commit so many alleged burglaries just a year after receiving a six-year sentence, so were the Problem Solvers.
What FOX31 discovered is Garringer was a beneficiary of Colorado’s “One Continuous Sentence” rule.
Garringer’s previous offenses
When Garringer pleaded guilty to felony robbery on June 27, 2022, he was sentenced to six years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
However, he only served three months. He was released by the parole board on Sept. 27, 2022, and it didn’t take Garringer long to get in legal trouble again.
Broomfield Police Department officers arrested Garringer for driving without a valid driver’s license on Dec. 11, 2022. He pleaded guilty and paid a $72 fine.
Then, Adams County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested him for a misdemeanor domestic violence case on Jan. 20, 2023.
However, it’s the 20 criminal charges for the eight burglaries of Denver residential garages between July 29 and Aug. 16 that led a law enforcement source to tip off the Problem Solvers.
Colorado’s ‘One Continuous Sentence’ rule
How did a man with felony arrests dating back to 2013, and who had just received a six-year prison sentence for a Home Depot robbery where a store employee was threatened with an axe get paroled after just three months?
The reason has to do with a pair of 2014 Colorado Supreme Court decisions that told the Department of Corrections how it has to apply prison time under what’s called the “One Continuous Sentence” rule.
Essentially, Garringer was given credit towards his six-year sentence for the time he already served for other previous unrelated crimes.
It turns out Garringer began serving a four-year prison sentence in the Department of Corrections on Nov. 4, 2021, after pleading guilty to three cases in Denver: vandalism, assaulting a peace officer, theft and escape; two cases in Adams County: vehicular eluding and theft; and one in Arapahoe County: vandalism.
But Garringer was given credit for the time he served in county jails, 753 days, before he was sentenced and arrived at the Department of Corrections.
Garringer was already in the custody of the Department of Corrections in January 2022 when Golden Police identified him as the suspect in the Nov. 20, 2020, Home Depot robbery.
That meant when Garringer pleaded guilty on June 27, 2022, and received a six-year sentence for the Home Depot robbery, he had effectively already served about two years and eight months for prior unrelated crimes.
The Department of Corrections told the Problem Solvers it had to apply those two years and eight months of time served towards Garringer’s new six-year sentence.
After all the calculations were made, Garringer became eligible for parole on Sept. 24, 2022. The parole board, at its discretion, released Garringer to parole on Sept. 27, 2022.
Thanks to all of the time he had served on unrelated prior convictions, Garringer effectively served only three months of his six-year sentence for the Home Depot robbery because all of his various sentences were combined into one concurrent sentence to be served at the same time.
“So, we never see anyone who’s going to serve six years on a six-year sentence. That’s the first point of frustration, as always, not only for us but for the community,” said Alexis King, the district attorney for the 1st Judicial District, which includes Jefferson and Gilpin Counties, who offered Garringer the six-year concurrent sentence. “But I don’t think anyone anticipated that he would be in and out in three months.”
Felons don’t serve full time in Colorado
King told the Problem Solvers most convicted felons only serve between 35% and 50% of their state sentence, unlike the federal system where a 10-year sentence means the defendant will truly serve 10 years.
“So, in Colorado, there’s not a lot of truth in sentencing. And we were on the cusp as a state trying to address that exact issue through the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice which was a bipartisan, multifaceted group of experts who sat and tried to solve these very complex issues, statutory issues on behalf of the state and for the legislature,” said King, who lamented the legislature’s decision to disband the commission in May.
Just last month, Gov. Jared Polis announced a new executive order to replace the commission with a working group to replace the work of the now-defunct commission.
King said when her office did its calculations on the Garringer sentence, at the request of FOX31, it determined Garringer should’ve stayed behind bars until Oct. 18, 2023, a year longer than he did. If he had served that extra year, he would not have been free to go on the alleged burglary spree in Denver.
“I think there was a lot of trust that he would have been in custody during that time period. But it also speaks to the fact that DOC has a lot of discretion in how they operate, how they calculate the math and that’s really out of the hands of the judges and the prosecutors involved,” said King.
Home Depot ‘robbery was a freebie’
“It’s almost like that robbery was a freebie,” said Denver District Attorney Beth McCann, referring to the Home Depot robbery that didn’t keep Garringer behind bars much longer than he was already serving for other crimes. “He’s out when he should have been in. So, he’s getting credit for that. He’s getting out for that robbery because he gets to combine that with other time earned on other cases.”
The result is McCann is now having to prosecute Garringer for crimes committed during a time frame the Denver burglary victims might think he should’ve already been in prison.
“Our office is frustrated, but more so these people who had their garages burglarized and valuable tools and bicycles and things of that nature stolen, that shouldn’t have happened. None of those should have happened,” said McCann.
In an email, Department of Corrections spokesperson Alondra Gonzalez told the Problem Solvers, “When any inmate has been committed under several convictions with separate sentences, the department shall construe all sentences as one continuous sentence.”
This means that all of the person’s sentences, even the newest one, start with the oldest start date. All of their sentences run concurrently, and the earned time and time served from the previous active sentences apply to the one continuous sentence.
Gonzalez told the Problem Solvers that Garringer’s domestic violence arrest and his more recent arrest for the eight Denver garage burglaries were both considered parole violations, but the parole board can’t revoke Garringer’s parole without a revocation hearing.
In addition, the state parole board won’t hold a revocation hearing until Garringer’s pending cases have been adjudicated.
He was supposed to have a parole revocation hearing last month, but it was postponed until September 2024 because of the new burglary charges.
Garringer is being held in the Denver Detention Center on a $10,000 bond. He’s asking the judge to modify his bond at his Dec. 11 arraignment in the hopes the judge will lower the bond so that he can get out of jail.
If he were to be arrested for any new crimes while free on bond, his parole revocation hearing would likely get delayed yet again.