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Man gets decades in prison for violent attacks on Highline Canal Trail

The victims were jogging or biking along the trail in Aurora in July 2020 when they were attacked in incidents days apart.

AURORA, Colo. — A man arrested in connection with two violent assaults in 2020 on the High Line Canal trail in Aurora was sentenced on Wednesday after he was convicted on multiple counts last November.

Julio Cesar Gonzalez, now 25, had pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. His case went to trial in Arapahoe County District Court and on Nov. 22 of last year the jury convicted him on the following counts.

  • First-degree assault with a deadly weapon
  • Second-degree assault causing injury
  • Felony menacing

Gonzalez was sentenced Wednesday to 20 years for the first count, five years for the second count, and three years for the third. The jury acquitted him on the most serious charge he faced, which was attempted murder.

A woman was jogging on the trail near East 1st Avenue and Moline Street in Aurora around 6 a.m. on July 11, 2020 when a man, later identified as Gonzalez, hit her several times with a board, according to Aurora Police.

Police said the woman suffered serious injuries to her hands and head from the attack.

“While open spaces are for all to enjoy, we all deserve to feel safe,” the survivor of the July 11, 2020 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.”

During the investigation, officers located an encampment for people experiencing homelessness near where the attack occurred. At that camp, officers observed a black piece of wood and a black bed headboard which had similar characteristics to the wood discovered at the attack scene.

Items recovered near the boards were found which belonged to Gonzalez. Investigators also learned he was wearing a GPS ankle monitor for an unrelated case. Data from it put him in the area of the attack at the time it occurred.

A similar attack was reported three days earlier on July 8 at roughly the same location. The victim in that attack was biking when she was attacked with a piece of wood. She was able to identify Gonzalez in a photo lineup as her attacker.

Prior to the assault, Gonzalez was on bond in Arapahoe County for a March 2020 burglary case.

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