An Aztec man who pleaded guilty to harassment for allegedly following several women in Durango and Bayfield was sentenced Friday to one year supervised probation.
Eli Garcia, who was 24 at the time of the incidents, was arrested in January after authorities said he followed a woman in Durango for multiple days, and another two women in Bayfield around the same time in December.
The victims did not wish to speak at Friday’s sentencing hearing, said Deputy District Attorney Reid Stewart. But, he said at least one of the victims was in support of the plea agreement that called for one year probation.
Garcia, appearing via video conference, declined to speak to the court. His attorney, David Greenberg, said that after some “reflection,” Garcia realizes he must exercise more “awareness” of his actions.
“He needs to keep his head down and obey the law,” Greenberg said.
Judge Todd Norvell, overseeing the case, said Garcia had a different view of what occurred during the incident, but said he found the victims’ account “more credible” than Garcia’s.
“It impacts people when you say things to them,” Norvell told Garcia. “This was concerning, and I’m not taking it lightly.”
Still, Norvell said he supported the plea agreement, which also prohibits Garcia from using drugs and alcohol for one year and requires him to pay court costs.
“You seem like a bright guy,” Norvell said. “You shouldn’t be here.”
According to court records, a Durango woman was walking through her employer’s parking lot Dec. 5 when a man in a Jeep leaned out the window and said a sexually explicit phrase to her.
The woman’s boyfriend had allegedly seen the same Jeep in their neighborhood that morning, records show.
On Dec. 12, the woman saw the same Jeep following her and took down the license plate number. The woman arrived at work, and the vehicle could be seen driving around the block twice before leaving the area.
Hours later, another woman spotted the Jeep following her around The Grocery Store in Bayfield. Garcia then allegedly started to follow her home.
“I was followed for more than 10 min,” the victim posted to social media. “I was making many turns to see if he was following me and he made exact turns.”
Around the same time, a man in the same vehicle pulled up to a woman at the Mini-Merc gas station in Bayfield and made the same explicit comment to another woman. Garcia then allegedly followed the woman on the road for some time before making a turn.