NewsCovering Colorado


James Papol sentenced to 60 years for 1988 rape and murder of Colorado Springs woman

Mary Lynne Vialpando
James Papol to be tried as an adult for 1988 murder
Posted at 10:45 AM, May 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-06 00:21:21-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — Wednesday, the man who pleaded guilty to the 1988 murder of 24-year-old Mary Lynn Vialpando in Colorado Springs was given the maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.

James Papol was 15 at the time of Vialpando's death. The victim was found raped, stabbed, and beaten to death in an alley in Old Colorado City in 1988. She died of blunt force trauma. No suspects were ever named in the case, but police sent DNA evidence to a lab in Virginia, which recreated the suspect’s facial appearance.

Papol was arrested in 2018 by the Colorado Springs Police Department based on DNA evidence. Then District Attorney Dan May said this was the first case in Colorado state history where officers collected DNA from a crime scene.

Wednesday, the judge presiding over the case said Papol had taken no accountability for his actions. She added that even at the age of 15, she probably would have given him the maximum sentence of 60 years.

Originally, Papol was charged with first-degree murder. He entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, leading the court to order a mental evaluation at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo where Papol was arrested in 2018.

Even though he was 15 at the time of the crime, prosecutors announced Papol would be charged as an adult.

A mistrial was declared in the fall jury trial for the case after a reported coronavirus exposure.

As part of a plea deal for second-degree murder and aggravated robbery, he faced 40 to 60 years in prison for each count.

Former District Attorney Dan May managed the case, even though he retired last year. He said he wanted to see the case through since he has managed it since day one. Following the victim impact statements made in court Wednesday, May called this one of the worst crime scenes he had ever been to and said the crime warranted the maximum penalty.

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