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February 27, 2014
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Mastermind of Basalt robbery gets 30 years

EAGLE — A man who kicked in a Basalt woman’s front door and robbed her at gunpoint was sentenced to three decades in prison.

Sergio Sanchez, 25, was sentenced Wednesday afternoon to 30 years in prison for his part in the armed robbery that saw three men kick in the victim’s front door, steal more than $62,000 in cash, jewelry and electronics, and then threaten to kill her.

Prosecutors Lisa Hunt and John Franks said Sanchez masterminded the robbery, and Judge Paul Dunkelman agreed.

Dunkelman listened attentively as prosecutors, the victim and her son asked for the maximum sentence, 32 years, and as Sanchez’s defense attorney, Burt Levin, and Sanchez’s mother asked for leniency. When they finished, the judge turned to address Sanchez directly.

‘Inevitable’

“The evidence is strong that you were in charge of that event, that it occurred because of decisions you made,” Dunkelman told Sanchez. “You have lived a life of purposeful disregard for others … You have made a living selling drugs … You’ve wasted your youth.”

Dunkelman called Sanchez’s fate “inevitable.”

“Looking at your history, today was inevitable for you, if not in this court, before some judge considering a long sentence,” Dunkelman said. “Today is the first day I’ve seen any kind of remorse. I’ve seen anger and disrespect, and I think that is the start, the very beginning of the rehabilitation process.”

Sanchez pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary, both felonies. He has already been in jail for 317 days and faces other charges in Garfield County.

Nobody believes it

Sanchez had insisted he was not holding the gun during the robbery. The victim, however, told the judge that Sanchez held a gun to her head and forced her to kneel over her bed, and that he threatened to kill her if she called the police.

“Sergio took things of great sentimental value from me that I’ll never be able to enjoy again,” she said. “Most of all he took away my feeling of safety in my own home. I jump when the cat moves or an ice cube tray turns over.”

She said she will not let those feelings govern the rest of her life.

“I’m hoping today brings closure for me, and forgiveness for Mr. Sanchez,” she said.

Sanchez’s mother cried at the podium as she tried to plead with the judge on behalf of her son, speaking in short staccato sentences.

“I’m sorry what my son did,” she said. “He did well in school. He graduated with a 4.0 average. I don’t know what took him down that road. I’m glad nothing happened to her. I think he has learned that what he did was wrong. But please don’t take him forever.”

Finally, Sanchez stood from his chair at the defendant’s table wearing a gray prison jumpsuit and shackles. Six uniformed Eagle County Sheriff’s deputies stood within a few feet of him.

‘I Do Not Ask For Forgiveness’

“I accept full responsibility for this situation and I deserve whatever I get,” he said to Dunkelman, then stopped to compose himself.

“I know no apology would mean anything because I have taken away peace of mind. I do not ask forgiveness because I do not deserve it,” Sanchez said, his head bowed as his brown eyes moistened. “I only ask that when you sentence me and lock me up, I ask only that you do not swallow the key.”

Franks said that even if Sanchez wasn’t the gunman, his behavior was equally reprehensible because he would have put a stolen gun into the hands of a 17-year-old gang member, his accomplice Rafael Vega-Sanchez, and sent him into the house. Franks said Vega-Sanchez is a member of Gallant Knights Insane, a Denver street gang.

Vega-Sanchez and his accomplice Michael Hawkins have already been sentenced.

Vega-Sanchez will spend six years in a youth detention facility because he was 17 when he participated in the robbery. Hawkins received a sentence of 24 years in prison.

If Vega-Sanchez fails in youth facility, then he goes straight to prison for 16 years, Dunkelman said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Feb 27, 2014 08:13PM Published May 8, 2014 03:11PM Copyright 2014 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.