Judge hears details in Aspen sex assault case
July 23, 2009
ASPEN – Prosecutors began laying out their case Wednesday against a Carbondale man accused of sexually assaulting an Aspen woman outside of the Centennial Apartments in the early morning hours of Jan. 17.
Details of the alleged attack were presented in the first day of the preliminary hearing in which Emanuel Gonzalez-Loujun, 21, is accused of five felonies, including sexual assault – a charge that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
The hearing, held to determine whether there is probable cause for the suspect to stand trial, is scheduled to continue at noon today in Pitkin County District Court. District Judge James Boyd is presiding over the case.
Prosecution witnesses testified that the alleged victim said she was dragged to a snowbank and raped several times by Gonzalez-Loujun after the two – who did not know each other – exited a public bus near the Centennial complex.
The alleged victim, however, had become wary of the suspect on the bus ride home that morning, according to testimony. While she and her male roommate were on the bus, Gonzalez-Loujun sat next to her, and at one point grabbed her left hand and said, “You look really nice in that dress.”
When the accuser and her roommate exited the bus at Centennial, Gonzalez-Loujun stepped off as well. The roommates went to their unit and the alleged victim began to cook dinner. At that time, the male noticed that his snowboard was missing from the porch and Gonzalez-Loujun was standing outside. The roommate then went outside with a frying pan, but after not returning after some 5 minutes, the alleged victim went outside to see what was a happening.
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As she got to the bottom of the stairs outside of her unit, the suspect “grabbed her from behind and started dragging her,” testified Aspen police officer Kirk Wheatley, who interviewed the alleged victim after the attack.
Gonzalez-Loujun then covered her mouth to prevent her from screaming, Wheatley said.
Several times she tried to fight him off, to no avail. Police testified that in an effort to gain the suspect’s trust, the alleged victim, after being sexually assaulted the first time, offered to take him back to her place, where she told him she had marijuana and cocaine.
“She was playing along to be interested so he would not [have intercourse] with her,” testified Carol Bagen, a sexual assault nurse examiner who inspected the victim after the alleged attack.
All the while, the woman was fearful that the suspect had a gun, because he told her he would “blow his head off” if she didn’t have intercourse with him, according to testimony.
The suspect, fearful he was being entrapped, did not oblige, instead dragging her to a snowy area where he sexually assaulted her again, according to allegations made in the hearing.
The suspect, wearing a black coat, black hat, and white hoodie at the time, also told the alleged victim he was a millionaire and a championship snowboarder who was visiting Aspen. He also allegedly told her he had been sniffing cocaine earlier that night.
“She was scared he would take her back to her apartment and kill her,” testified Aspen police officer Kirk Wheatley.
Wheatley said he was the first police officer to speak to the alleged victim, sometime after 2:30 a.m. He met her in the upstairs bathroom of a Centennial unit, where two neighbors had let her in after she escaped from the suspect. During that time, other police searched for the suspect, of whom a description had been released.
“I could hear the woman’s voice crying hysterically, saying ‘I’ve been raped, I’ve been raped,'” Wheatley testified. “Her whole body was shaking.”
Wheatley said the victim managed to recount what happened and also positively identify the suspect after police arrested him the same morning of the alleged attack.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Arnold Mordkin brought four witnesses to the stand Wednesday, including Bagen, Wheatley, police detective Chris Womack and officer Leon Murray.
Gonzalez-Loujun is charged with sexual assault, which carries a sentence of 16 years to life in prison. The kidnapping charge against him carries a sentence of 16 to 48 years in prison.
Other charges against him include cocaine distribution and possession of more than 1 gram, second-degree assault of a police officer and resisting arrest, which is a misdemeanor.
Officer Murray is expected to continue his testimony today regarding the arrest of Gonzalez-Loujun. Murray apprehended the suspect the morning in question, after being allegedly hit in the face by the suspect.
Gonzalez-Loujun is being represented by public defender Stephen McCrohan.