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Supreme Court upholds Juarez life sentence for sex assault

WILLMAR — The state Supreme Court has upheld the life prison sentence of Jose Santoya Juarez, the 54-year-old Willmar man convicted of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting a woman in July 2010 in an alley near the Willmar Eagles Club.

The Supreme Court ruling issued Tuesday found that a life sentence for aggravated criminal sexual conduct is not cruel or unusual punishment and that the sentence does not violate the U.S. or state constitutions, and that Juarez’s action of removing his victim more than 200 feet to assault her did meet the “heinous element” required by state law in such cases. Finally, the court ruled that the District Court did not err in the case.

According to the state Department of Corrections website, Juarez is serving his sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Rush City.

The Supreme Court granted further review of the case in February. The state Court of Appeals, in November 2012, affirmed Juarez’s conviction, finding that Juarez’s constitutional rights were not violated by the state statute allowing life prison sentences for a person previously convicted of a sex crime and having met the “heinous element” standard, and the appeals court also found that the district judge did not err in her handling of the case.

Juarez was indicted by a grand jury on four charges for the July 27, 2010, incident. He was found guilty of all four counts, including attempted first-degree criminal sexual conduct, second-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping and third-degree assault, by District Judge Kathryn N. Smith in August 2011 in Kandiyohi County District Court. He was sentenced in October 2011 to the life prison sentence.

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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