ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — A man was sentenced to 25 years in prison for two attacks in 2020 on the High Line Canal Trail.
Julio Cesar Gonzalez, 25, was sentenced this month after he was found guilty of attacking two women with pieces of wood along the popular urban trail, according to the 18th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
On July 11, 2020 just after 6 a.m., officers with the Aurora Police Department were dispatched to the area of E. 1st Avenue and N. Moline Street after receiving a report that a woman had been physically attacked by a man with a board, according to the district attorney's office. The woman had substantial bodily injuries and wounds to her hands and head, and was transported to a nearby hospital.
During the officers' investigation, they found an encampment of tents near the scene. At one of the sites, police found a black piece of wood and black bed headboard that looked similar to wood discovered at the attack scene, according to the district attorney's office.
After obtaining a search warrant for the campsite, police found criminal summons belonging to Gonzalez from a separate incident. They also learned he had a GPS ankle bracelet and its data revealed Gonzalez was at the scene of the crime on July 11, according to the district attorney's office.
The investigation also revealed that Gonzalez was the suspect in a similar attack in the same area three days earlier, on July 8. In that incident, a woman was attacked with a piece of wood while riding a bike with her two teenage daughters. The woman had injuries to her arm and elbow. She later identified Gonzalez in a photo line-up.
Gonzalez was arrested the same month as the attacks and charged with first-degree assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury, second-degree assault causing injury with a deadly weapon, and menacing with a real or simulated weapon.
He was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the first charge, five years in prison for the second charge consecutive to the first charge, and three years for the third charge, which would run concurrent to the first charge.
“While open spaces are for all to enjoy, we all deserve to feel safe,” the survivor of the July 11 attack said in court. “I’m always on high alert when I hear something behind me, fearing what could be another attack. No number of apologies could undo or right what happened to me that day.”
Chief Deputy District Attorney Jason Siers said the evidence left no doubt Gonzalez was responsible for both attacks.
"The victims showed enormous strength and courage to survive and we hope this week’s sentence brings them some closure," Siers said.
District Attorney John Kellner added that the defendant's aggressive and violent behavior showed a complete disregard for human life.
“People in our community deserve to feel safe at our local parks and trails," he said. "I hope this lengthy sentence restores some sense of safety and security in our community.”