Man convicted for brutal rape in alley
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Marcos Garcia-Flores was found guilty Thursday of assaulting and raping a woman in downtown Aspen last summer.
A jury of eight men and four women deliberated for nearly four hours before convicting Garcia-Flores, 22, of first-degree assault and sexual assault. The charges carry a minimum prison sentence of 26 years.
Assistant District Attorney Lawson Wills told jurors in his closing statement that the defendant “hunted” and “trapped” the young woman, intentionally selecting a dark alley to carry out the attack and rape.
The victim, now 22 years old, sat in the third row of the courtroom surrounded by supporters, a tight smile on her face when the verdict was read.
“This is the first time in nine and a half months that I felt … I can’t explain how I feel,” she said. “It feels really good.”
Garcia-Flores remained still and somber-faced as the verdict was read, looking once at the victim while he was being handcuffed and led back to the Pitkin County Jail. He will be sentenced June 17.
Garcia-Flores did not testify. When asked by District Court Judge J.E. DeVilbiss if he had any questions, he responded, “No, I just want to go back to Mexico.” Garcia-Flores is not an American citizen, and the Immigration and Naturalization Service has placed a “hold” on him, meaning if he is ever paroled, he will be deported.
He was arrested 36 hours after the victim reported the crime last July. The victim testified that she was walking home after the bars closed when she was dragged into the alley behind Little Annie’s Eating House, beaten and raped.
The prosecution presented its last witness on Thursday morning: an expert in DNA analysis from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation in Montrose. Janel Smith testified that she compared DNA from sperm collected from the victim’s vaginal walls and a tampon to blood taken from Garcia-Flores.
Smith said she determined there was a 1-in-3 quadrillion chance that the DNA analyzed in the sperm does not belong to Garcia-Flores. She said the statistic was determined using a database created by the FBI.
“I concluded that to a reasonable degree of scientific certainty, Garcia-Flores is the source of the sperm taken from the vaginal swab,” she said.
The prosecution rested its case after Smith’s testimony, as did public defender James Conway, saying although he did subpoena witnesses, “in light of the testimony that has come in, it is not necessary to call them.”
In his closing statement Conway argued that the prosecution had not met their burden of proof in determining that a “grave risk of death” was caused during the assault. He said the severe black eye she received during the attack, her fractured nose, and being choked with her head hitting the pavement did not constitute all the requirements of a first-degree assault. He cited two X-rays she received at the hospital that came up negative for bleeding in the brain.
District Attorney Lawson Wills rebutted that the victim said Garcia-Flores told her “have sex with me or die” several times during the attack. Even so, after the verdict was read Wills said it was probably the point upon which the jury deliberated the longest.
“The first-degree assault could have gone either way,” Wills said. “I felt we were very strong on the sexual assault charge – both with the DNA [evidence] and that we had to negate consent.
“The jurors had plenty to think about and a very difficult decision to make. My thanks and appreciation for their difficult work.”
The victim, who had testified about the night of the attack in detail on Wednesday, received hugs from family and friends as the courtroom emptied out at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
“The victim in this case was very brave in participating in the prosecution, and in our minds she did the community a great service in making sure this man never hurts anyone again,” Wills said.
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