At an online hearing on Tuesday Teton County District Court Judge Timothy Day rejected John “Zech” Harmon’s request to get out of state custody early.
Harmon was sentenced to prison about a year ago after admitting to terrorizing several women by stalking them.
After filing a motion for sentence reduction the 33-year-old appeared Tuesday morning by phone from the Wyoming Honor Conservation Camp in Newcastle.
“I am sorry for the things I have done and the trauma I have caused and the emotional despair I have put people through,” Harmon said.
Harmon said that in the past year he has learned to take responsibility for his behavior, changing through therapy and courses provided by the Wyoming Department of Corrections.
“I have been in denial in my life,” Harmon said. “I would play the victim or make excuses for my behavior.”
Harmon was placed on probation in November 2018 for felony stalking. In that case police said he stalked a complete stranger and scared her so much she moved thousands of miles away.
“She’s my trophy,” Harmon messaged one of the victim’s friends at the time. “It’s time to collect what’s mine. If I’m going to cut her to pieces she should hope she wouldn’t go to the one place I know where she’s going to be.”
He pleaded guilty in that case and was placed on probation, but soon after he was arrested for violating his release terms for stalking another woman.
Teton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Clark Allan said Harmon puts on an act for the court.
“It’s hard to believe the defendant is where he needs to be,” Allan said. “The very nature of his crimes indicate somebody who is extremely deceptive and manipulative. He has lived his whole life deceiving people and scaring people and manipulating people.”
Harmon’s attorney, Elisabeth Trefonas, asked the court for a sentence reduction to two to six years, rather than the four- to eight-year sentence he’s serving.
“He has gone through every program that’s been available to him,” Trefonas said. “I think he’s had a humbling experience through all this.”
But Allan said Harmon’s victims are still terrified of him.
“A month ago out of the clear blue I got a call from another victim from Kentucky who told her tale of terror and referenced at least another victim she knew,” Allan told the court. “These victims, the only peace they have is knowing Mr. Harmon is locked up.”
Allan said Harmon fixates on a victim and threatens violence, then goes to extreme measures to stalk them, like switching devices and applications to reach them after they’ve blocked him.
“I think to say in the short time he’s been in the penitentiary system that he’s turned it all around would be naive,” Allan said.
Harmon told the court that he’s battled bipolar disorder and depression and that his mother has died since he’s been in custody.
He told Judge Day it was his mother’s last wish that he improve himself and that’s his new motivation to turn things around.
“I have sent God my dying wish, and that is for you to learn to be the man that I raised,” Harmon read from his mother’s letter during the hearing. “Let these demons go that you’ve let take over you.”
Harmon apologized, mentioning his victims by name.
“I am sorry for everyone I have caused trauma to and countless others in my life,” he said.
But Day was not ready to reduce Harmon’s prison sentence.
“I have no misgivings about the original sentence having been just and fair and proportional to the crime,” Day said. “You are paying your dues for your transgressions.”
Harmon is eligible for parole in June 2021.