AP NEWS

Boulder County Jury Deliberating Longmont Attempted Murder, Rape Case

March 21, 2019
Juan Jose Figueroa Jr. appears March 12 at the Boulder County Justice Center during opening statements in his attempted murder and rape case in Boulder. Attorneys made closing statements Thursday, after which the jury began deliberating.

After two weeks of testimony, a Boulder County jury is now tasked with determining whether a Longmont man is guilty of raping and strangling a woman in 2017 or if their encounter was consensual.

Juan Jose Figueroa Jr., 29, is charged with six counts of sexual assault, as well as attempted second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree assault.

Prosecutors allege Figueroa met the woman on Nov. 24, 2017, at the Speakeasy Bar, 301 Main St. in Longmont. The woman later went to a party, which she left in the company of Figueroa and went a house on the 1000 block of Ponderosa Circle, where Figueroa was renting a room. The Times-Call does not identify sexual assault victims.

Deputy District Attorney Lys Runnerstrom said it was there Figueroa strangled the woman to the point of unconsciousness and raped her.

“This is not a case about mistaken consent,” Runnerstrom said. “This is not a case about two people who made decisions in concert with each other.”

Runnerstrom showed pictures of marks on the woman’s neck and burst blood vessels in her eye.

“While she was up there, that is what he was doing to her: putting his hand around her neck over and over again over the course of that hour,” Runnerstrom said.

Runnerstrom said the woman’s blood alcohol content was estimated to be about .25 to .27 at the time of the assault, and also played video of the woman stumbling after the party.

“That is somebody who is showing external visible signs of intoxication,” Runnerstrom said.

But in their closing arguments, defense attorney Marshal Seufert said the encounter was consensual. He noted the woman initially told police Figueroa dragged her by the hair up the stairs, but noted video shows that didn’t happen.

“She led the way up to the bedroom,” Seufert said, later adding that the woman’s testimony was “unreliable and likely fabricated.”

Seufert said video from the party also showed the woman dancing and having a good time.

“She’s doing what she wants,” Seufert said. “We have video evidence she is dancing because she wants to.”

As for the intoxication, Seufert brought up witness statements that the woman was a “binge drinker.”

“She was not a ‘naive drinker,’” Seufert said. “You need to consider that she is somebody that is off the charts when it comes to being able to handle her alcohol.”

Earlier in the day, Figueroa elected not to testify in his case.

At about 1:30 p.m., the jury was sent to begin deliberating the case, with two alternate jurors who sat through the trial also remaining on call.

Longmont police have also identified Figueroa as the suspect in the case of missing mother Rita Gutierrez-Garcia, who vanished in March 2018 and is now presumed dead. He has not been charged in that case.

Mitchell Byars: 303-473-1329, byarsm@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/mitchellbyars