73-year-old woman raped by an illegal immigrant from Guatemala
Resolute in her desire for justice, the 73-year-old woman steered her motorized wheelchair into the Hartford courtroom Wednesday to confront the man who broke into her East Hartford apartment while she was sleeping and raped her.
Fidgeting with the plastic tube from her portable oxygen tank, the woman, identified only as JD, took a breath and stared at Alejandro Cuy Xum as he was brought into Superior Court in Hartford for his sentencing.
The last time JD saw Cuy Xum, now a 23-year-old, was after midnight July 17, 2005, when he broke into the Willow Arms Apartments for the elderly on Main Street.
Cuy Xum walked down a hallway and found the wheelchair-bound woman's door unlocked. He walked in, found JD in her bedroom and punched her in the head before raping her. After the attack, Cuy Xum rifled the apartment and took some of her belongings. As he left, he grabbed JD's little dog and threw it against a wall.
"There is no sentence that is enough," Assistant State's Attorney Edward Narus told Judge Thomas Miano. "This was a victim who had no means to fight. She was not able to defend herself."
Calling it a heinous crime, Miano sentenced Cuy Xum to 20 years in prison for one count of first-degree sexual assault, one count of third-degree assault on an elderly person and two counts of burglary.
"No one can appreciate what this woman has gone through," Miano said. "This is such a devastating affront to humanity."
Miano said JD showed great courage in her willingness to testify in the case. Miano noted that many rape victims are afraid to become involved in the court system.
"This woman should be commended," he said.
Before Cuy Xum was sentenced, Miano asked him whether he wanted to speak.
Cuy Xum admitted his crime and said he was taking responsibility for his actions.
"I would like to let the victim know I am sorry," Cuy Xum said through an interpreter.
Cuy Xum said he read in the Bible that they are brother and sister in God's eyes.
"I would like her to forgive me. I wish everyone to forgive me for everything I did."
JD's eyes were fixed on Cuy Xum but she did not react.
Before Cuy Xum spoke, JD's daughter read a statement prepared by her mother.
The statement said, in part:
"I've lost the ability to live in my own home. I was living in a senior apartment complex when I was attacked. I no longer have the strength to live on my own. That part of my life ended.
"I've lost most social contacts. My lifelong best friend, Dot, and I lived at Willow Arms Senior Housing along with other friends and building neighbors. Dot and I would see one another several times a week. I seldom see them anymore. That part of my life ended. ...
"I've lost full use of my arm. ...
"I've lost the companionship of my little dog. Peaches was my constant companion."
Narus said JD's life will no longer be the same.
"We consider our home sacrosanct ... safe and secure," Narus said.
When a home is broken into the victim feels violated, he said.
Narus cited the "horrific" break-in last month of a doctor's home in Cheshire and the killing of his wife and daughters, one of whom was raped.
After an event like that, there is a public outcry for justice, Narus said. Narus said he could understand the outcry.
In the East Hartford case, Narus said, he tried to imagine the "sheer terror" the woman felt when she was "savagely attacked and sexually assaulted.
"She is a prisoner within her own walls now," he said.
Cuy Xum, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, is likely to be deported after serving his time in prison, Narus said.
73-year-old rape victim: Security, independence, privacy, pet all gone