ASHEVILLE, N.C.-- A man who sexually assaulted a young Asheville woman at knifepoint and held her captive in her apartment for more than three hours will spend the rest of his life in prison.
When the victim opened her door, Joseph Ortiz, a ski mask covering his face, pushed his way into her residence, then tied the woman up before assaulting her, Assistant District Attorney Megan Apple said.
Ortiz passed out after drinking most of a bottle of vodka inside the apartment on Ravenscroft Drive, allowing the woman to escape and alert police, who found the attacker unconscious on the floor.
A Buncombe County jury found Ortiz, 53, guilty at the conclusion this month of a weeklong trial in the 2010 case.
"We're very pleased with the jury verdict," Apple said. "We feel like this conviction serves the community well. He's a violent offender and won't be out on the street anymore."
Jurors found Ortiz guilty of first-degree sex offense, first-degree kidnapping, armed robbery, breaking and entering and being a habitual felon.
Judge James Downs sentenced the defendant, who has a long criminal record, to life in prison plus a minimum of 24 years.
Apple said Ortiz, who lived in the same downtown apartment complex, knocked on the victim's door about 6 p.m. on May 21, 2010. He first demanded money, and she gave him about $450.
He then placed duct tape over her eyes and tied her hands and feet behind her back, the prosecutor said.
"Then he holds her hostage there for about three and a half hours and performs various types of sexual assaults on her," she said.
Apple said Ortiz even made the woman dress in lingerie, and he cut the clothing off her. He threatened to kill her if she screamed.
When the woman escaped, she drove straight to the Asheville Police Department a few blocks away.
"They went straight back to the apartment and found him passed out on the floor," she said.
Apple said Ortiz, who is originally from Puerto Rico, had previous convictions for aggravated assault, selling drugs, grand larceny and other crimes in Florida, Georgia and New York.