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Crime and Courts

Man gets 60 years for 1988 slaying of Colorado Springs woman

James Papol, who was 15 when he attacked 24-year-old Mary Lynn Vialpando in an alley

Mary Lynne Vialpando.

COLORADO SPRINGS — A man linked by DNA to the 1988 slaying of a Colorado Springs woman has been sentenced to 60 years in prison.

James Papol, who was 15 when he attacked 24-year-old Mary Lynn Vialpando in an alley, was sentenced Wednesday after previously pleading guilty to second-degree murder and aggravated robbery, The Gazette reported.

Papol, now 48, told the judge during his plea hearing in February that he had intended to steal the woman’s jewelry when he stabbed her and pushed her to the ground, causing her to hit her head on a rock. He left out that there was evidence he had sexually assaulted Vialpando.

Former District Attorney Dan May, who prosecuted the case, said the omission was the result of the statute of limitations expiring on a sexual assault charge.

Mary Lynne Vialpando.

Papol was linked to the slaying when his DNA was matched to a profile developed from semen collected from the victim. When he was arrested in 2018, he was a patient at the Colorado State Mental Health Institute at Pueblo — the result of prior insanity commitments that have mostly kept him at the state hospital for much of the past two decades.

“What (Vialpando) went through is unspeakable,” District Judge Robin Chittum said Wednesday. “It was a prolonged period of her being the focus of hate and rage and anger. And she struggled and she suffered and she fought back — holy cow.”

May, who was assigned to the case as a rookie, stayed on at the DA’s Office as a volunteer to see it through to a conclusion after leaving office in January. He called the crime scene the first and worst of his career.


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