Aspen jury convicts man for felony burglary, misdemeanor sex crime
It took a Pitkin County jury almost six hours to find a Glenwood Springs man guilty of felony burglary and misdemeanor sexual contact stemming from a Nov. 6 incident.
The verdict, delivered at 4:25 p.m. Thursday in Pitkin County District Court, set the stage for a July 20 sentencing hearing for Luis Santiago-Narvaez, 35. In the meantime, he must undergo a court-ordered psychosexual evaluation.
Judge Gail Nichols also ordered Santiago-Narvaez, who had been free on $6,000 bond, to Pitkin County Jail on a raised bond of $10,000. If he can post the $4,000 difference, he will be free until his sentencing date.
The felony burglary charge is the most severe conviction, as it carries a presumptive prison sentence range from four to 12 years. He also faced a felony charge of unlawful sexual contact, which also would have carried a sentence of as much as 12 years. However, the jury found him guilty on a reduced misdemeanor sexual-contact count on the basis that they did not believe he used physical force or violence when he touched the victim’s butt and breasts.
The panel acquitted Santiago-Narvaez on a harassment charge, a count that was added during jury instructions.
Because Santiago-Narvaez is an undocumented citizen, he would first serve his sentence before being deported to his home country. He currently lives with his wife, who attended the trial that started Tuesday. He also has his two children ages 2 and 4.
“Throughout these proceedings, Mr. Santiago has been most concerned about the immigration consequences of the charges, and I can assure you he wants to remain in the U.S. as long as possible,” defense attorney Ted Hess told the judge.
The jury was tasked with sorting through conflicting testimony between Santiago-Narvaez and the alleged victim, a 32-year-old housekeeper who became stranded on the balcony of a Basalt home she was cleaning on the day in question. The woman testified Wednesday she went through the second-floor master bedroom’s sliding-glass door to clean the windows, but it locked behind her. She was trapped outside for nearly five hours before getting the attention of Santiago-Narvaez, who had pulled up in the home’s driveway. The driveway was shared by a home that was under construction, which also was Santiago-Narvaez’s job site.
After Santiago-Narvaez went inside the home and brought the woman to safety, he touched her butt while they were in the master bedroom. Trial testimony, from both the victim and a Basalt police officer, showed that he also touched her breasts at the bottom of the stairwell after she had asked him at least twice to leave the residence. And before he left the home, he asked her for her phone number.
Santiago-Narvaez testified the physical contacts were incidental, but the jury thought otherwise.
“He was trying to get laid or get a date, and he just kept taking it too far,” said juror Shane Todd, one of six men on the 12-member panel.
Todd said the burglary conviction was a simple one to make.
“The burglary was easy because once you’re in somebody’s house and asked to leave and you don’t — boom, you’re guilty,” he said.
The 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office used two prosecutors to try the case — Matthew Barrett and Andrea Byran.
Both honed in on the victim’s 911 call, her emotional outburst to authorities and her mother after the incident, and a man who thought he had an opportunity for a fling during his time of heroism.
“He saw an opportunity and he took advantage of it,” Bryan said. “Here is a cold, vulnerable woman who’s been stranded for a few hours because she is alone in a home. … He grabbed her butt and her breasts. It’s as clear as that.”
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Despite nearly a month of intense investigation by two APD detectives, two investigators with the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office and help from an FBI agent in Glenwood Springs, the case is progressing slowly.