Teen gets 50-year sentence Argument for convicted rapist 'rings hollow' to judge
Argument for convicted rapist 'rings hollow' to judge
Elias Garcia, 16, a New Milford youth who pleaded guilty to a 2009 rape at Willow Springs condominium complex, looked fear stricken last Friday as he was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
The sentence could be suspended after 30 years and followed by 35 years of probation.
Judge James Ginocchio handed down the sentence Friday at Superior Court in Litchfield on charges of home invasion, first-degree sexual assault, first-degree assault, and a charge of first-degree larceny relating to a separate incident of burglary.
"I hear the defendant's family talk about bad choices, mistakes -- this rings hollow to me," Judge Ginocchio said, addressing the now 26-year-old victim and her family.
"I've tried to hear something that would tell me why this happened... I don't know what went wrong with this young man, but there's something intrinsically wrong. It borders on the pathological," he added.
Elias Garcia pleaded guilty in September to breaking into the first-floor unit of a 25-year-old woman at 2 a.m. on Aug. 6, 2009, where he went to the victim's bedroom and, upon her waking, violently attacked her and strangled her until she became unconscious.
He then raped the woman, who was unaware of what occurred until she awoke sometime later, according to court testimony.
The victim told the court she could barely move and that it took her 10 minutes to get her breath back. She said she could not find the phone in the mess that had resulted from the struggle and it was only later that she realized she was "half naked."
Flanked by her mother and father, the victim, who had been working toward her MBA in August 2009, the month of the attack, told the court her life had been irrevocably changed by the rape and assault.
She said she lost her job, had to leave college and now lives in fear.
"I had never before that night heard this stranger's name that will forever ring in my mind and haunt me," she said through sobs, her mother's hand on her back. "I will always fear this person will come and try to murder me again."
The victim, her mother and her father all referred to Garcia as "this monster" as they addressed the court.
"I'm truly sorry for my actions," Elias Garcia told the court. "I know that never in my life will I be forgiven for what I did. I know that I have made some terrible mistakes in my life but I don't want to be known as a monster, as a criminal. Every day for the last year, I think about what I've done to an innocent person."
His parents and neighbors from the Willow Springs condo complex spoke on his behalf.
Neighbor Maria Galan said she had always thought of the 16-year-old Garcia as "a playful child" and when she heard what had happened she said she thought "it was incredible."
"Maybe he wasn't fully conscious of what he was doing," Ms. Galan said, referring to defense attorney Damian Tucker's assertion that Garcia had been drinking heavily the evening of the attack.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Dawn Gallo painted a different picture of Elias Garcia, however.
She outlined a "history of criminal behavior," with cases pending in Litchfield and other jurisdictions on charges of larceny, burglary and fourth-degree sexual assault.
Ms. Gallo told of the teen's parents being "afraid" at his violent outbursts when they attempted to "control his actions," an assertion, his mother, Claudia Espinosa, denied in court.