WORTHINGTON — After hearing arguments from both sides, a Nobles County District Court judge sentenced Isaias De La Cruz-Soto, 26, to 172 months in prison for an October 2020 sexual assault.
He was charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct (indicating penetration and fear of great bodily harm) and third-degree criminal sexual conduct (denoting force or coercion), threats of violence and false imprisonment, all felonies; gross misdemeanor interfering with a 9-1-1 call; and misdemeanor domestic assault.
In April, a jury of his peers found De La Cruz-Soto guilty on all counts. He received his sentence Tuesday.
Although De La Cruz-Soto was convicted of all six offenses, he could only be sentenced for the most serious offense because they all took place during a single incident.
At the Tuesday hearing, a victim advocate from the Southwest Crisis Center read a victim impact statement for the court. It detailed how the assault has affected the victim's daily life since the crime, and ended with this assessment: "What he did to me was horrible, and he deserves to be in prison."
The attorneys for the prosecution and the defense then presented verbal arguments to the court in favor of certain sentences.
Representing the state, Assistant Nobles County Attorney Braden Hoefert asked Fifth Judicial District Judge Sherry Haley to order 172 months in prison, which is the longest sentence in the recommended range for first-degree criminal sexual conduct for someone with no criminal history.
"This offense was shocking in its brutality," Hoefert said, adding that it's different from many criminal sexual conduct cases that come through the court.
"They are all vile. They are all disgusting," he said, adding that sexual assault is not all that De La Cruz-Soto did. He also threatened to kill the victim, chased the victim as they tried to escape and interrupted their 9-1-1 call.
The fact that the victim is alive is not a sign that De La Cruz-Soto showed any mercy, Hoefert explained. The victim is alive because they fought back and tried to escape, and because neighbors heard the victim screaming and called 9-1-1.
"He's shown no remorse. None," Hoefert added.
Throughout the trial and the pre-sentence investigation interview process, De La Cruz-Soto showed no evidence that he regretted or felt sorry for what he did to the victim.
"Whatever sentence the court imposes, I'm confident the defendant will deserve every minute of it," the prosecutor concluded.
Next, defense attorney Amanda Delaney argued in favor of De La Cruz-Soto receiving the shortest recommended sentence. She noted that he has no prior criminal history, and his crime is not a pattern of behavior. There was also a significant amount of alcohol involved in the crime, Delaney told the court.
Lastly, she explained that De La Cruz-Soto financially supports two children who don't live with him, and he needs to work in order to provide for them.
De La Cruz-Soto elected to exercise his right to make a statement prior to sentencing.
"I am truly sorry, and I regret a lot of the things that happened that day," he told the court.
He also disputed the victim's account of what he did.
"That's just not how it went down. I know it wasn't that bad," he said.
De La Cruz-Soto went on to say that all he had wanted to do was go to Denver to work, and the victim wouldn't let him, and that's what caused him to do what he did.
"I haven't committed any other crimes," he said, adding that it's just a coincidence that he moved to Worthington and all of a sudden had "problems with the police."
He also said that the victim had given him alcohol on the day of the assault, and that the victim had been drinking, too.
"My mistake was that I put (the victim) in first place and my family in second place," he said.
After hearing from De La Cruz-Soto, Haley pronounced a sentence.
"Since the trial, you have failed to take accountability for your conduct," she told De La Cruz-Soto. "You were given an opportunity during the PSI (pre-sentence investigation) interview and just now in court.
"You appear to lack any remorse as it relates to the harm you caused this victim. Your statements are clear victim-blaming, and you minimize your own conduct," she said.
Haley sentenced De La Cruz-Soto to 172 months in prison (14 1/2 years), with credit for 226 days already served. She also ordered him to pay $9,748.62 in restitution to the victim, which will be withheld from his prison wages. De La Cruz-Soto is required to enroll in the predatory offender registry.