Gazette opinion: Life in prison for serial rapist

2014-04-16T00:00:00Z 2014-07-28T12:21:04Z Gazette opinion: Life in prison for serial rapist The Billings Gazette
April 16, 2014 12:00 am

Justice was served in Yellowstone County District Court Monday when 12 jurors unanimously agreed that Toby Eugene Griego is guilty on all 27 felony counts stemming brutal attacks on four Billings women.

The case is unusual because of the extreme violence Griego used in repeatedly raping three women and attempting to rape a fourth.

Prosecutors and police officers correctly described him as a serial rapist. He already had a conviction for kidnapping and raping a 16-year-old girl in New Mexico before he came to Billings. He should never have been released from prison in that state. Now he will spend the rest of his life in Montana prison. District Judge Russell Fagg will sentence Griego to life in prison with no possibility of parole.

This case is unusual for the tremendous amount of investigative work that was done by Billings Police Department. Every officer in the detective division helped keep Griego under surveillance. Detective Jim Woog, an FBI-trained forensic phone examiner, retrieved images and video of the attacks that Griego had made and attempted to delete from his cellphone.

Courageous testimony

The four victims courageously testified, along with 25 other witnesses for the prosecution. Chief Deputy County Attorney Rod Souza and Deputy County Attorney Juli Pierce left no stone unturned in making the case that Griego is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Another important element in the case is the competent defense. To keep this criminal in prison, our law requires a fair trial and the legal representation provided by the Montana Public Defender Office.

The 12 jurors and three alternates endured five days of extremely disturbing testimony. They were required to view and listen to videos of the attacks, videos Giego made on his cellphone. They saw the rapist’s face, heard his voice, heard his victims crying. They listened to the horrific details of the rapes as each of the four victims testified.

The jurors saw the truth, reaching verdicts on all counts in 3 ½ hours. We thank them for their service.

We commend the police investigators and the prosecutors for their tireless pursuit of the rapist whose crimes terrified this city last summer.

Informed citizens

We also recall that the crimes weren’t reported publicly until after the third attack. We note that a critical break in this case came from a citizen’s tip. Griego was observed following a woman around a local store. Police identified Griego as a convicted rapist, started following him and eventually got a search warrant that allowed them to seize the cellphone containing eyewitness evidence of the crimes.

Good police work and an informed citizenry solved this case. Citizens expect BPD to always keep us informed on a timely basis about crime here. Informed citizens can take action to reduce their risks, keep an eye out for suspicious activity and report it to police.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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