A Saratoga Springs man who last year dragged a 67-year-old woman from her vehicle, beat her and sexually assaulted her was sentenced Monday to 11 years in state prison.
Prosecutors sought the 15-year maximum for Antonio Lopez Bautista, 19, of 10 Federal St., who was convicted on May 31 of attempted kidnapping, sexual abuse, criminal obstruction of breathing and two counts of assault.
Saratoga County Court Judge Jerry J. Scarano sentenced him to less than the maximum prison term, but required Bautista to serve the maximum 10 years of post-release supervision, provided he is not deported before then. Prosecutors said he is an illegal immigrant who was caught coming into the U.S. in 2009, sent back to Mexico and then successfully crossed the border again a month later.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will handle deportation independently from the local criminal case.
Bautista maintained that he did not recall the attack because he had drunk alcohol and taken some medication and hallucinated that he was beating a female political figure from his Mexican hometown, explanations that the prosecutor called “excuses” while the defense attorney said Bautista “never once rejected responsibility.”
He was accused of approaching the woman’s parked vehicle early in the morning on May 22, 2012, on Congress Street, where she had dropped her husband off for his cleaning job. Bautista pulled her from the vehicle to the parking lot behind the building, hit her and stomped on her as she struggled, authorities said.
Then he ripped off her clothes and her bra and began sexually assaulting her, choking her as she screamed for help, authorities said. A 31⁄2-minute surveillance video showed most of the attack, which ended when authorities arrived and Bautista fled.
Assistant District Attorney Michele Schettino said the woman was traumatized by the event and still feels afraid driving to work.
“Nothing can give her back the sense of security she once felt,” she said.
The woman’s name is being withheld; The Daily Gazette does not release the name of victims of sexual crimes.
Scarano said he couldn’t excuse Bautista based on the alcohol defense.
“One of the problems here is that if I accept your testimony that you were hallucinating when this happened … you knew that if you drank too much you tend to hallucinate and you become aggressive.”
In court on Monday, Bautista read a statement in Spanish asking forgiveness for hurting the woman, and an interpreter translated it aloud into English. The interpreter also read letters Bautista wrote to the victim and the judge.
One spoke of Bautista witnessing sexual abuse as a teen.
“I know how it hurts,” he wrote to the woman. “I know the pain that this can cause, and even more so to a woman.”
Concerning the attack, he said he remembered little between the time he left his friends’ apartment, where he drank alcohol, and being in police custody the next morning.
“I only remember the voice of a woman that said, ‘Stop, stop, stop,’ and that I was hitting the woman.”
His defense attorney, Stacey Gorman, said Bautista was forced to take the case to trial because prosecutors refused to cut a plea deal with him, insisting that he plead guilty to all charges and accept the maximum prison sentence.
“The charges that were lodged against Mr. Bautista did not fit the crime,” she said.
Scarano received 16 letters written in support of Bautista.