A serial child-sex offender laughed at a Douglas County judge, who then sentenced him to 576 years to life
in prison on Thursday.
"If you’re laughing now, stay tuned,"
Judge Paul King told Richard Heeringa, 57. "You deserve every century that I’m going to give you."
Heeringa declined to speak at his sentencing.
The judge rebuked Heeringa for fleeing Colorado in 2010 on the night before a jury found him guilty on 17 counts of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust and failure to register as a sex offender.
On the run for 18 months, Heeringa made the U.S. Marshals Service's 15 Most Wanted fugitive list. In October 2011, deputy marshals captured him in a Detroit basement apartment, where he was living under an assumed name. A resident recognized him from a picture on "America's Most Wanted."
"Heeringa is a predator who has a track record of preying on young girls," Geoff Shank, acting assistant director of the U.S. Marshals Service Investigative Operations Division, said at the time of the arrest.
Authorities said Heeringa would befriend divorced women in order to get to their daughters.
He spent 12 years in a Michigan prison for sexual assault.
Upon being released in 2004, Heeringa move to Colorado to resume a relationship with an ex-wife, and soon began molesting her daughter, said Douglas County district attorney spokeswoman Casimir Spencer.
Heeringa continued sexually assaulting the girl until September 2007, when he left the home, Spencer said.
The girl came forward to police several months later.
New coverage of Heeringa’s arrest drew the attention of other girls who'd been sexually assaulted by the man, Spencer said. They, too, came forward and testified about similar attacks by Heeringa.
Veteran prosecutors said Herringa is one of the most coldly calculating predators they've ever faced.
“What sticks out most in my mind about this case is the degree of planning Heeringa used to plan, accomplish and try to get away with his crimes,"
Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Sugioka said at the sentencing. "It’s more premeditation and forethought than I've ever seen in a murder case or any other type of case, all for the express purpose of molesting a child."
Deputy District Attorney Christopher Gallo agreed.
"I have sat in the same courtroom with assassins and murderers, but it is this man that has haunted my thoughts
," Gallo said. "He has the insufferable gall to say that it is this court’s fault and the legislators' fault for railroading him as he thumbs his nose at the court and asks for leniency."
"There is no upper limit that the court can impose. Asking for the minimum would be farcical in comparison to what the defendant did. If this defendant is given the possibility to breathe free air, then I believe we have failed," the prosecutor concluded.