Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Woman, hitman sentenced to long prison terms for murder of estranged husband

A woman was sentenced to 54 years in prison for the murder-for hire of her estranged husband. The hitman himself got 48 years in a Colorado courtroom Friday, July 10. They plead guilty and agreed to testify against the shooter in the case, the woman's new boyfriend.

Kristin Durgan, 40, was sentenced to 48 years for 2nd degree murder and 6 years for kidnapping as a crime of violence, with Kristin’s sentences to be served consecutively. Brian Folsom, 30, the hitman, was sentences to the same terms, but his sentences will be served concurrently. Both plead guilty to 37 year old James Durgan’s murder, which took place a year to the day before the sentencing, July 10, 2008, after Kristin pretended that she had car trouble while transporting their two kids.

James drove to the canyon between Canon City & Salida, where he thought his estranged wife was, but instead met Folsom, who kidnapped him. Folsom drove the victim about a mile before handcuffing him to a tree. Folsom then went back to Salida where he met Kristin's new boyfriend, Andrew Tanner, 22. Tanner received a map from Folsom showing where the victim was before driving down to the spot and shooting him 3 times in the head. James' body was discovered in the Arkansas River near Parkdale by kayakers July 19, 2008.

Folsom accepted $1500 to $2000 to kill James.

Six weeks later, three people were arrested for the killing. Durgan’s estranged wife Kristin, 40, was arrested by the Fremont County Combined Investigation Team in Gunnison; her alleged boyfriend, Andrew Tanner, 22, was arrested in Salida; and Brian Nicholas Folsom, 29, was arrested at the Chaffee County Jail where, he was being held for a parole violation.

All three eventually were charged with one count of first-degree murder after deliberation, one count of first-degree murder during the commission of another felony, one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.

Eventually, the story would emerge publicly through a two-day preliminary hearing held for all three defendants. Lead investigator on the case Det. Mike Jolliffe presented the bulk of the testimony in the hearing. District Attorney Thom LeDoux, who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Deputy District Attorney Chip Cutler, introduced 46 pieces of evidence on the first day of the hearing.

During Kristin's sentencing hearing, James' family members testified about his being a father to his two kids. "I will never understand why this had to happen. The method in which Jim was killed haunts me every day...Sons are meant to bury their fathers, not fathers to bury their sons.”

Larry Durgan said he was sure his son’s thoughts during his final hours were for the safety of his children. He added that by killing James, the murderers took more than his life, they took his children’s lives as well as Larry’s own.

Maryann Godbehere, who was a neighbor of the Durgan family in Phoenix while James was growing up and whose son was James’ best friend, also spoke.

“(Kristen Durgan) lured him to his death using her own children as bait. I wish we could take away from her the title of mother. She doesn’t deserve it. May God have mercy on her wretched soul.”

Tara Barber, of Jackson, Wyo., who was James Durgan’s girlfriend at the time of his death, presented a photo montage in his memory.

“I was his girlfriend and true soul mate,” she told District Judge Julie Marshall. “I stand before you a year to the day from the last time I saw him. Words will never express what so many have lost.”

Judge Marshall then spoke about the victim before passing sentence.

“James Durgan was a person and he was a person who mattered; he mattered to the people in the courtroom and he mattered to people who are not present.”

She also spoke about the effect the murder will have on the Durgans’ children — who are now 11 and 13 years old. She said the children’s victim impact statements asked that their mother not be sent to prison, that she receive probation instead.

“They will in fact lack a father, and they will in fact lack a mother,” Marshall said of the children. “The consequences to your children have to be severe.”

After this, she spoke to the victim's family members, stating, “It’s [Kristin's] burden to get over it. "It’s your burden to celebrate the life you had with Mr. Durgan."

When Folsom was brought out for his sentencing, the defense agreed to allow Marshall to consider victims’ statements from Durgan’s hearing. Barber showed the photo montage of James Durgan a second time.

“The last year of my life has felt longer than the first 30,” she said. “My life will forever be changed.”

When LeDoux made the prosecution’s statement, he said the amount of money Folsom accepted for his part in the crime — between $1,500 and $2,000 — was “appalling.”

“It became clear to us that Mr. Folsom knew exactly what he was doing,” LeDoux said.
Folsom took the opportunity to make a statement before Marshall imposed his sentence. “I just want to apologize for my part in this crime. And I hope the family can forgive me someday.”

Marshall said to deal with two people who had admitted to participating in a murder in one day was emotionally exhausting for everyone involved. She recapped the victims’ statements from Durgan’s hearing for Folsom.

Marshall repeated her remarks about the burden of the survivors of James Duggan to Folsom. “Their burden remains heavy. It’s mind boggling (for the victims) to imagine that his life mattered so little to others....It’s clear that you didn’t treat Mr. Durgan as a fellow human being. What was done by you cannot be undone.”


Tara Ann said...

Thank you for your interest and posting of Jim's story. I thought you might be interested in a follow-up to the story (

A jury trial was held in August for Andrew Tanner, the boyfriend of Jim's estranged wife. He was found guilty on nine counts. Sentencing is scheduled for October.

CentraCom said...

I just found out about this today. Jim was our Nortel installer. We would request him by name for all of our jobs as we did today when we found out what had happened. Jim was one of the few people who I know who is truly enjoyable to be around. He was a good friend to a lot of us here. I can't believe this...absolutely terrible. We love you Jim!