A 30-year-old Helena man was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping, beating and raping a woman in a Helena home last year.
Jor-El Ruben Quiroz was convicted of sexual intercourse without consent, aggravated kidnapping, assault with a weapon (knife), meth possession and partner or family member assault earlier this year.
Prosecutors alleged that Quiroz held a woman for hours inside a west Helena home, beat and threatened her and her children before raping her. Helena police also found a baggie of methamphetamine in the home that was found to belong to Quiroz.
A Lewis and Clark County jury convicted him in July of the crimes and he has remained in county custody, where he has been charged with an additional felony for an alleged assault on another inmate.
Due to the seriousness of the offenses and other charges and convictions dating back to his mid-teens, the prosecution requested maximum sentences on all counts, including life in prison for the rape and aggravated kidnapping.
“(Quiroz) has shown himself to be a dangerous and violent person,” prosecutor Dan Baris told Judge James Reynolds.
Baris detailed the crimes and past criminal history, pointing out that Quiroz had been in and out of the system since he was 15 including more than two years in the Montana State Prison.
“He deserves to be punished for these horrible things he did to this woman, and (the victim), her children, her loved ones and the other members of the community deserve to be protected from Mr. Quiroz,” Baris said. “The only way this court can do that is to sentence him to the maximum penalty allowed by law.”
Defense attorney Ryan Smith argued that Quiroz has never received treatment for drug addiction or mental health issues and that Reynolds should sentence him with rehabilitation in mind.
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“That’s what the state’s doing, they are trying to throw away a human being,” Smith said. “ … That’s not what sentencing is, sentencing is not just a punishment. It’s not to house people. It’s not to make sure they stay in a concrete 5X5 cell, they’re missing many of the other aspects of sentencing.”
Smith cited the pre-sentence investigation, which found Quiroz would be treatable for issues such as addiction and anxiety. He requested a sentence of 56 years with 26 years suspended.
Quiroz spoke on his own behalf and maintained his innocence. While he continues to deny the crimes he was convicted of in Friday’s sentencing, he did acknowledge the role of meth in his legal troubles, saying “it put me here essentially,” and that he would like to seek treatment. He further asked that pending charges not be considered.
Reynolds, noting that the case was likely to be appealed, sided largely with the prosecution. He sentenced Quiroz to life for both the rape and aggravated kidnapping, 20 years for aggravated assault, five years for drug possession and one year for partner or family member assault.
“This was bad, this was a really bad set of events you perpetrated on this young woman, and you’re entitled to maintain your innocence. I’m entitled to take the jury’s verdict that you did it,” Reynolds said.
The judge continued, saying that he hoped that Quiroz seeks treatment in prison but feared that his behavior showed he may be a “broken person,” in part based on the charges accrued while in jail.
“I’m not trying to throw you away, I’m trying to get you to a place where you can get treatment but you can also be protected from your own worst instincts,” Reynolds said.
The prosecution had asked that sentences run consecutively, meaning he would not be eligible for parole for more than 66 years. Reynolds ruled that they would run concurrently, which for a life sentence, means Quiroz is not eligible for parole for 30 years. He must register as a sexual and violent offender if he is paroled.