A former Durango resident who sowed fear, apprehension and humiliation among figures of authority in the community with a sophisticated network of lies about their character will remain behind bars for the time being.
The immediate future of Davis Temple Stephenson was determined Friday when 6th Judicial District Judge Gregory Lyman set a hearing in December to hear Stephenson argue that he was convicted because of ineffective counsel.
His current attorney, Becky Briggs, said Stephenson, who has been in prison or jail since May 2004, would agree to drop his claim in exchange for two years of supervised parole.
Stephenson, 47, made an impassioned plea by speaker phone Friday to the court. He said immaturity, running with the wrong crowd and fuzzy reasoning were at the root of his actions. He said he has since realized that his conduct was frightening and injurious to his victims.
The more than 20 felony convictions for criminal libel, criminal impersonation, stalking and forgery will remain on record, Stephenson said. The chance to find work, marry or have children may have passed, he said.
He has matured, Stephenson said, and he apologized for vilifying and maligning the character of his victims.
Three of Stephenson’s victims spoke Friday, two by phone, one in court. They have doubts about Stephenson’s sincerity and remorsefulness and think he is still a danger.
They said they opposed the proposed agreement.
Lyman, who recently took over the Stephenson case, heard arguments Friday from Assistant District Attorney Justin Fay and Briggs who both said the plea bargain would work.
Lyman wasn’t buying it immediately, however. He set Dec. 15 for the opening of a three-day hearing in which Stephenson can attempt to show he didn’t get adequate legal counsel.
Lyman took the case when Judge William Herringer recused himself because Stephenson’s mother approached him before his appointment to the bench about representing her son.
Stephenson, currently in Skyline Correctional Center in Cañon City, was sentenced to 23 years in prison in 2006 for 26 felonies from late 1999 into 2003.
Stephenson graduated from Fort Lewis College with honors in 2002 with a degree in English.
During his rampage, Stephenson attacked figures of authority with fabricated documents and website postings that denigrated their characters. Among his victims were a corrections officer, an FLC professor and a landlord.
Stephenson faked an obituary saying a jail guard died of AIDS; he falsely said a jail deputy was member of the North American Man/Boy Love Association; he created a phony website that resulted in an FLC professor receiving letters from unknown men about a “rape me” fantasy.
In mid-2003, Stephenson was sentenced to a year in prison for credit-card fraud. As he was being released, he was arrested on the libel, impersonation and other charges.