ST. GEORGE — A man who committed two home invasions and a sexually assaulted a woman last year while under the influence of methamphetamine was sentenced to serve up to 20 years in prison Tuesday afternoon.
Jaime Santos Torres, 25, of St. George, appeared in 5th District Court before Judge Eric Ludlow to be sentenced on two second-degree felony counts of forcible sex abuse and burglary of a dwelling and a third-degree felony count of forcible sex abuse.
The second-degree felonies carry a one-to-15 year prison sentence while the third-degree felony carries a zero-to-five year sentence.
Torres pleaded guilty to the charges Aug. 21.
The charges stem from an incident that took place in late October 2017 in which Torres entered a home in Little Valley and then another in Washington Fields within a 30-minute span.
Torres entered the Little Valley home and encountered a 19-year-old woman who had just taken a shower, according to police.
The woman told officers that Torres shut the door behind him and approached her asking if she was alone. The woman told the Torres that she wasn’t home alone and started screaming for her roommate.
Torres moved in such a way that made the woman believe he was going to cover her mouth, which made her fear he was going to assault her. At that point, Torres ran out of the house as the woman kept screaming.
Following that incident, Torres went into Washington Fields and noticed a woman driving by in a car alone. According to police documents, he followed her home, and entered through an open garage door.
Torres told the woman he mistakenly thought the house was that of a friend and asked for a glass of water and a Band-Aid. The woman gave him the items and grew uncomfortable as Torres began to leave.
“The victim who was then standing in the hallway of the home was approached by (Torres) who then grabbed her shoulders,” police documents state. “She punched the male and kicked him and at that time the male grabbed her breasts and then ran out of the home.”
The woman chased Torres down the street until she lost sight of him.
She provided police with a description of Torres while a neighbor provided a description of a pickup truck leaving the area. Police were also able to obtain security camera footage of the truck.
Torres was located soon after and taken into custody.
While being interviews by police, he told investigators that his intention for entering the homes was “wanting to have sex.”
Response in court
During the sentencing hearing Tuesday, Deputy Washington County Attorney Zachary Weiland said Torres acted the way he did because he was strung out on meth. Letters of apology to the victims read by Torres echoed that sentiment.
“I take responsibility,” Torres said. “I took drugs and wasn’t acting right.”
Torres wrote a letter for each victim, both with similar tones. He apologized for what he did and said he had been clean of drugs since his arrest. Prior to that incident, he said he had tried to quit drugs and repeatedly failed.
“I wish I could take back what I did, but I know that’s not how life works,” Torres said.
He become emotional while reading parts of the letters, as did members of his family.
In the letter to the woman who fought back, Torres said he was glad she was able to do so, and said, “I wasn’t myself that day.”
Torres said he didn’t want to go to prison and asked the court for mercy.
Members of the family of the woman who chased Torres out of their home were also present. One them quietly remarked that he hoped the judge wasn’t being fooled by Torres’ apology letters.
The victim’s husband also stood before the court and stated his wife has been “in a living hell” of panic attacks and anxiety due to the home invasion and assault. They also had to move because his family no longer felt safe in their old home.
While he accepted Torres’ apology, the victim’s husband said it would take much longer to forgive him.
“I ask for just consequences” for his actions, the man told the court.
Kristopher Pearson, Torres’ attorney, told the court that his client had no violent criminal history prior to the October incident, and asked for him to serve a year in the county jail and be placed on four years probation.
Weiland began layout reasons for why the state wanted Torres to serve prison time when Ludlow interrupted him.
“I don’t think there’s a question of what’s going to happen,” Ludlow said. “Is the state recommending consecutive or concurrent (sentencing)?”
Weiland asked for the two second-degree felonies to be served concurrently, while the third-degree felony would be served consecutively, giving Torres up to 20 years in prison.
Ludlow sentenced Torres accordingly.
“I pray he gets the counseling he needs,” Weiland said following the sentencing, adding Torres has been on felony probation for drug-related charges since 2012.
“This is a tragic case,” he said. “People who say drug crimes are victimless crimes, that’s not the case.”
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