FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4/AP) – A man who pleaded guilty to murder in the death of a woman who disappeared after leaving a Denver nightclub in March has also pleaded guilty in the July attack of a Fort Collins woman.
Travis Forbes agreed to plead guilty Tuesday in a July 5 apartment fire in Fort Collins that forced a woman to jump from a second-story window.
The plea deal was part of a joint resolution by prosecutors in Denver and Fort Collins in the death of Kenia Monge and the attack on Lydia Tillman in Fort Collins.
Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey said Monday that Forbes agreed to plead guilty to first-degree murder in Monge’s death and serve life in prison without the possibility for parole in exchange for prosecutors not seeking the death penalty. Morrissey said Forbes also agreed to plead guilty to attempted first degree-murder in the Fort Collins case and be sentenced to 48 years in prison, with a mandatory five years parole.
Prosecutors in Fort Collins declined to comment, citing a gag order issued in that case.
Forbes was sentenced to life Monday immediately after pleading guilty to Monge’s death in an unusual move that came at the beginning of the case and less than three weeks after he led authorities to her body.
Morrissey said Forbes’ arrest in the Fort Collins attack on Tillman provided the break in the death of Monge, 19.
Tillman was in the courtroom. She’s recovering after jumping out her second floor window and suffering a stroke from the attack. Prosecutors say when she jumped she saved DNA evidence from the fire that proved Forbes was the attacker. It was evidence that led Forbes to confess to the attack on Tillman and the murder of Monge.
“He was anxious to talk when he was picked up and he knew that this case was solid and he was going nowhere,” Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson said. “We wanted 48 more years on top of that to make sure that there’s no chance that for the rest of his life he’d ever get out.”
Forbes spoke in court on Tuesday.
“Why did I do this? I have been searching for that also in my heart and soul. I think we commit violent acts because deep down we find hatred of ourselves. I am so thankful that Lydia Tillman survived because if I hadn’t been caught, I probably would have done this again because deep down I’m f**ked up. I’m evil,” Forbes said.
A statement from Tillman was read in court as well.
“You have taken nothing from me. My spirit, my soul and my mind remain untouched. May you find peace in this life.”
The woman was looking straight at Forbes while she read the statement. He was not looking back at her.
Anthony Lee, Monge’s stepfather, said the he met with Forbes at a gas station after Forbes sent a text to Monge’s phone asking if she made it home all right. Police questioned Forbes and searched his 1999 box van, but Lee said the overwhelming smell of bleach from the van raised suspicions.
Lee said that despite the suspicions he kept an open mind that Forbes was innocent. That is, until Forbes’ arrest in the brutal Fort Collins attack.
“After that, there was only one question for him: `Where’s Kenia?”" Lee said.
Morrissey said as part of the plea deal, Forbes agreed to provide investigators all the details of the case.
“He may say it was an accident, a mistake,” Lee said of Forbes’ courtroom characterization of Monge’s death. “But that Fort Collins case demonstrated that not only was he capable of violence, but that he was doing it.”
Forbes, who has a criminal record for assault, trespassing and theft, worked at a bakery in the Denver area at the time of Monge’s disappearance. He faced an auto theft allegation for allegedly driving a friend’s SUV to Texas, but that charge was later dropped.
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