Care facility aide gets 6 years on multiple sex assaults plea
Garfield County Judge James Boyd sentenced 55-year-old Jose Echeverria to six years in prison Tuesday for sexually assaulting multiple developmentally disabled women last year.
In a plea agreement, Echeverria pleaded guilty in February to two counts of attempted sex assault by overcoming a victim’s will, and that deal stipulated six years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Echeverria was arrested in April 2016 and accused of sexually assaulting a developmentally disabled woman in a group home where he worked in Glenwood Springs. He worked as an overnight caretaker at Mountain Valley Developmental Services. Later investigators would find a second victim and say there was potentially a third.
The defendant had been out on bond since May 2016 and was taken immediately into custody following sentencing Tuesday.
The two counts are for two victims in this case, and though there was a possible third, Deputy District Attorney Zac Parsons said evidence was not sufficient to prosecute that case.
This six-year sentence was stipulated by a plea deal, which also dropped two counts of sex assault on an at-risk adult by overcoming a victim’s will, which are Class 2 felonies.
The charges were pleaded down to “attempted” counts, though Parsons described the incidents as “completed crimes.”
Parsons said the plea deal was for the maximum possible sentence of those two attempted sex assault charges of three years each, and requires that they be served consecutively. Echeverria will also have to register for life as a sex offender.
Public Defender Molly Owens asked that he be allowed contact with his children and a grandchild for whom he and his wife recently began caring. But the judge said this is largely a non-issue as his children are adults, and he did allow contact with the grandchild, given that Echeverria’s prison sentence is already going to limit that contact.
Before Boyd ruled on sentencing, a sister-in-law of one of the victims addressed the court, asking for a strong sentence.
“This has been a hard year for our family, because sexual assault and attempted sexual assault, especially involving helpless individuals, is a heinous crime,” she said.
The court did not get to hear from the two victims in this case because the women have difficulty verbalizing and expressing what they went through, Parsons told the judge. The deputy district attorney said the sentence should reflect that the impact on the victims’ lives may be irreversible.
Echeverria addressed Boyd, saying that he was “happy that God and you are going to do justice.”
He asked for forgiveness “for what has happened” and said he had nothing in his heart against the judge, the system or the families involved.
After contemplating silently for a minute, Boyd said that Echeverria’s case brings together two of the criminal justice system’s most serious crimes: sexual assault and crimes against victims “who were nearly if not totally helpless and vulnerable, unable to protect themselves.”
Still, the sister-in-law said that she believed that hope and forgiveness are available to Echeverria through God.
Boyd said that many letters to the court from friends and family in support of Echeverria also emphasized the importance of his and his family’s faith.
“But in the midst of all that, you went to these two helpless people and victimized them,” the judge said.
This “prison sentence is the one you deserve and have earned for yourself in this case,” the judge said to Echeverria. “Six years is a long time in prison, but it’s still far shorter than the duration of suffering your victims will have to live with.”