DURANGO – A man has been sentenced for a sexual assault committed on The Ute Mountain Ute Reservation.
39-year-old Merle Denezpi, of Shiprock, New Mexico, was sentenced to 360 months, or 30 years, in federal prison for committing aggravated sexual assault in Towaoc.
According to court documents, Denezpi used physical force and death threats to sexually assault the victim. Denezpi fled from the scene by jumping out a second-story window when he saw police approaching the residence. He then hid under a bush for about thirteen hours.
Denezpi admitted under oath that he lied to federal agents when he was arrested. A sexual assault exam showed significant bruising and injuries to the victim. A DNA test found Denezpi’s DNA was present on the victim.
Following his sentence, Denezpi will be on supervised release for 10 years.