Judge sentences blow torch-using home invader to 67 years

Prosecutor: Defendant smiled while burning victim

CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A man who invaded an Aurora apartment, cut the occupant’s feet with a knife and tortured him with a propane blowtorch, has been sentenced to a total of 67 years behind bars.

Julio Francisco Vasquez, 32, was convicted on eight counts ranging from First Degree Assault to Aggravated Robbery and Felony Imprisonment. Prosecutors say he plotted to assault and rob the victim in retribution for the unwanted attention and treatment he gave to Vasquez's girlfriend, Kara O'Brien.

O'Brien, 21, who was also known as “Miss Lola,” worked as a stripper at The Penthouse in Glendale.

Prosecutors say O'Brien went to the victim’s apartment under the guise of friendship and offered to give him a back rub.

“While (she) was sitting on the victim’s back, giving him that back rub, she was texting Mr. Vasquez giving him landmarks on how to find the apartment,” said Deputy District Attorney Kyle McCarthy.

O’Brien then apparently had second thoughts because she didn’t think the victim had much money.

“And it was the defendant who said, ‘Turn the music up, unlock the door, we’re coming in. We’re doing it no matter what,” McCarthy told 7NEWS.

Vasquez arrived at the victim’s apartment with two other defendants, 34-year old Jose Talamantes and 24-year old Louie Leon.

The home invaders tied the tenant’s hands and feet and mouth with packaging tape. Talamantes and Leon then began searching the home for drugs, while Vasquez and O'Brien attended to the victim.

Prosecutors say Vasquez found the blowtorch on the floor by the victim’s bedroom door.

“The testimony described how he got a smile on his face, stepped outside and turned out the lights,” McCarthy said. “The victim said that the only light that was coming from the room was the light of the blowtorch and that during this incident he could see the defendant smiling.”

During the sentencing hearing, prosecutors said that after Vasquez and O’Brien tortured the victim, they had sex.

“They were into blood sports,” prosecutors said. “They would cut each other and lick each other’s blood.”

Before sentencing Vasquez, Judge Elizabeth Weishaupi said “Mr. (D) was terrorized and tortured. He thought he was going to die.”

She then sentenced Vasquez to 67 years.

“When we’re facing a case of this nature and the depraved acts that Mr. Vasquez committed, I think any sentence less than 67 years would have been unjust,” said Deputy DA Michael Angel.

District Attorney George Brauchler said Vasquez was very deserving of the sentence.

“If you’re willing to hold a blowtorch to another human being’s flesh, hear those screams, smell those smells, and see the flesh burn, you’re the kind of person that we protect the community from by ‘warehousing’ you,” Brauchler said. “And that’s where he should go, is prison.”

7NEWS was able to contact the victim Thursday afternoon.  He said he’s glad the case has been resolved and that justice has been served.

The other three defendants reached plea agreements and were sentenced earlier.

O’Brien pleaded guilty to Second Degree Burglary and Robbery in May of 2012.  She was sentenced 18 years in the Department of Corrections.

Talamantes pleaded guilty to Second Degree Kidnapping in May of 2012.  He received a 22 year sentence.

Leon pleaded guilty to Robbery and Second Degree Burglary in July of 2012.  He was sentenced to a total of 10 years.

Prosecutors say the victim has recovered physically, but not psychologically.