Erwin guilty of attempted murder, rape
Donald Franklin Erwin pleaded guilty Monday to the rape, attempted murder and robbery of a 77-year-old woman and will most likely spend the rest of his life in prison.
The 42-year-old Rifle resident pleaded innocent by reason of insanity at an arraignment earlier this year.
Since then, psychiatrists at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo who analyzed Erwin were unable to determine whether he was sane or insane at the time of the crime, prosecutor Trisha Lacey said.
On Monday, Erwin agreed to take a plea bargain offered by prosecutors. It drops all charges related to a 2000 burglary case and drops four of the seven charges against him in the 2001 rape and beating of an elderly woman.
But even with the plea agreement, Erwin faces a minimum sentence of 96 years in state prison and a maximum sentence of life.
He is set to be sentenced Oct. 10.
Ninth District Judge J.E. DeVilbiss asked Erwin Monday why he was pleading guilty to each of the three remaining counts.
“Because I am guilty,” he said each time.
A jury trial that was scheduled for later this year will be vacated.
Erwin pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder, robbery of an at-risk adult and sexual assault of an at-risk adult for his actions during the Nov. 30, 2001, incident.
When police responded to the woman’s Rifle home on Dec. 1, 2001, they knocked on the front door, but nobody answered. After forcing their way into the house, they found the woman bound with telephone cords and gagged.
On Dec. 3, a Glenwood Springs police officer saw Erwin walking down the sidewalk on South Glen Avenue. He was immediately arrested and locked up in Garfield County Jail, where he will remain until he is sentenced.
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A man was found dead in a vehicle along U.S. Highway 6 just west of Parachute late Tuesday night, according to a news release from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.