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Juarez gets life without parole for sexual assault in Willmar, Minn., alley

Jose Juarez

WILLMAR -- Jose Santoya Juarez, 52, of Willmar, was sentenced this afternoon to life in prison without the possibility of parole, for sexually assaulting a woman last summer in an alley near the Willmar Eagles Club.

The sentence, on a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, was handed down in Kandiyohi County District Court by Judge Kathryn N. Smith.

Juarez and several family members pleaded with Smith before the sentence came down for mercy. Juarez read a prepared statement asking for a reasonable prison sentence, plus a supervised release period, so that he could prove that "I'm not a menace to society," he said.

Ziola Perra, Juarez' sister, also pleaded for mercy. She was one of about 10 family members in the courtroom during the hearing. "I'm not saying my brother is an angel by any means," she said, "But he is a good man, a good father."

In August, Smith found Juarez guilty of four felony counts during a court trial in early August and also ruled that he could be sentenced to life in prison because of his prior conviction for criminal sexual conduct in 1997 and because he removed his victim 209 feet into an alley before assaulting her. That removal constituted the "heinous element" required by the state statute that allows prosecutors to seek life sentences for dangerous sexual offenders. The assault happened July 27, 2010.

County Attorney Jenna Fischer said after the hearing that she was pleased with the sentence. Defense attorney John Mack stated in court, after the sentence was handed down, that he intended to appeal on behalf of his client.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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