A Montrose man, John Austin Fusco, who pleaded guilty to menacing a woman and trespass on Haycamp Mesa, was sentenced Thursday to serve eight years in the Department of Corrections.
22nd Judicial District Judge Doug Walker handed down a 6-year sentence for the Class 5 felony menacing and a 2-year sentence for Class 5 felony trespass.
The prison sentences were part of a plea agreement and will be served consecutively. A restitution amount will be determined.
Fusco, 37, was arrested Nov. 30 after a woman reported Nov. 25 that while driving on the Haycamp Road, she had been harassed, run off the road and threatened by a man police later identified as Fusco.
In a victim statement during a sentencing hearing Thursday, the woman said the event has traumatized her and caused continuing emotional and financial distress.
That day she was visiting the San Juan National Forest to enjoy nature, and “could not have imagined cruel criminal actions would turn my world upside down,” she said.
The woman said the attack by Fusco has left her distrustful of people and more fearful.
“Prior to this crime, that had not been an issue,” she said.
She said the attack wrecked her car, left her without transportation and prevented her from caring for her elderly mother.
She urged that Fusco receive the maximum sentence so she could have time to heal knowing he is behind bars.
During a statement, Fusco apologized for his actions and said he suffers from mental illness and effects of numerous concussions in his life.
“I truly apologize and will pay for my sin and the fear I have caused her,” he said.
Fusco said he did not remember the incident because he “blacked out” while under the influence of drugs.
Public defender Kellan Schmelz said Fusco suffers from documented mental health issues and has “an attitude of accountability” for the crimes committed. This is his first felony conviction.
According to police and court records, Fusco harassed the woman after asking her if she was alright. He then aggressively followed and struck her vehicle from behind, which caused her to crash into an embankment. She reported he then approached by foot to her vehicle window and attempted to break in, but she was able drive away, according to Montezuma County Sheriff Steve Nowlin. She was not injured.
Several deputies and a Colorado Parks and Wildlife official conducted a “methodical search” of Haycamp Mesa roads, San Juan National Forest land and private land in the area for the suspect and black truck.
During the investigation, loggers in the Haycamp area reported seeing a man and black truck that fit the description of the suspect, and a person cutting firewood reported seeing it on nearby private property.
Deputies then found a black pickup owned by Fusco with damage that was consistent with the collision on the Haycamp Road, Nowlin said.
When Fusco was arrested, he was residing on private property with a yurt without permission from the landowner.