Suspect in garage rape heads to trial
EAGLE ” Jonathan Schut pushed a photo of his 3-year-old-daughter against the glass of one of the Eagle County jail’s visitation booths with a mix of pride and despair.
He said he knows he’s getting closer to a longer stay in prison after spending a year at the county jail for allegedly raping a woman in Vail.
“I miss my two girls every day,” said Schut, 26, who has been detained since he was arrested and accused of raping a 29-year-old Denver woman in the Vail parking garage on March 12, 2005.
“But what do I have to lose?” he added, referring to the fact that he passed up a recent plea deal from prosecutors and is now heading to trial where, if convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
“Their plea offer had a sentence of between 15 and 40 years. We countered with 15 to 32, but they didn’t take it,” Schut said of the counter offer he made through his attorney, public defender Ken Barker. “I’d have taken 15 to 32 (years) to get it over with.”
District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said Schut’s counter offer was for a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of 24 and not for the 15 to 32 Schut mentioned.
“The plea offer is still out there if he changes his mind, but we won’t lower it because of the type of crime,” Hurlbert said.
Schut rejected a plea where he would have pleaded guilty to attempted sexual assault and burglary. The next step in the case will be on June 5 when prosecutors and the defense will discuss the evidence that will be admitted at the trial, the date for which has yet to be set.
Though he could now face up to life in prison, Schut said he doesn’t believe there is much difference in what he could get if he pleads guilty.
“It’s a lot of time, no matter what,” he said shaking his head.
This was the last offer that will come from the prosecutors, Hurlbert said. In the past, Hurlbert said he doubted a plea would be offered due to the seriousness of the charges.
Prosecutors have filed three criminal cases against Schut. In the case of the Denver woman, the following charges have been filed: sexual assault, robbery, felony menacing, trespass and two counts of assault.
For allegedly attempting to sexually attack a woman at her home in Eagle on March 18, 2005, Schut faces the following charges: attempted sexual assault, burglary, trespassing and assault. The third case is for possession of drugs.
Each case will be tried separately, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Greg Crittenden, who is prosecuting Schut. Crittenden said he doesn’t know yet if the alleged victims will testify at the trial. If they don’t, Crittenden said, he still believes he has a strong case.
“I only take a case I believe we can succeed and prove it beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
In the meantime, Schut who partially blames drugs and alcohol for getting him in trouble, has his family pictures and his books to keep him company in jail. His last visitors were his parents ” his father is a pastor ” who came in the summer from New Mexico.
“Here I’m 16 and I’m with my dad at the juvenile detention center,” he said showing another picture. “I was there for robbing 30 homes.”
Schut, who moved to Eagle in 2004, was previously arrested for burglary, concealing identity and criminal damage to property, police reports say.
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