On February 18, Denver serial rapist Brent J. Brents nearly beat 33-year-old Tiffany Engle to death. She was his last victim—and she is also my friend.
A little before 9 a.m., deputies bring Brents into the courtroom. I pat Tiffany on the knee. Clothed in a red jump suit and wearing shackles, Brents shuffles in and sits down. He's shorter than I had imagined. I look at Tiffany, who stops her gaze on Brents long enough to look at me and say, "Punk," in perfect Tiffany style.
Judge Robert S. Hyatt begins the hearing, and it becomes immediately apparent that Brents has copped a plea with the prosecution. Tiffany turns to me and mouths the word "guilty." For the next two hours we sit and listen to the details of the 68 felonies to which Brents pleads guilty. My stomach turns as the judge describes count No. 72-one count of criminal intent to commit first-degree murder with a deadly weapon, that weapon, in this case, being a two-by-four.
Throughout the hearing Tiffany holds a piece of folded-up computer paper in her hand. She steals a look at it every few minutes. I finally catch a glance and realize what it is: It's the statement she'll read before the judge hands down his sentence.
It is 11:30 a.m. before we begin to hear what we've all come to hear. Judge Hyatt reads off each individual count and then asks how Brents pleads. It is satisfying to hear him say "guilty" 68 times in a row. After the last guilty plea, the judge takes a 15-minute recess, and when he returns the district attorney motions for the first victim to come to the podium. A young, beautiful blonde offers her opinion that the Aurora Police Department should accept responsibility for its mistake of not arresting Brents in November. She goes on to say simply and emphatically to Brents that raping women and children is not OK. The second victim, the 44-year-old pet store owner, tells Brents he's pure evil and that she hopes in prison he will experience the sheer terror he inflicted on her and his other victims.
As the second woman sits down, Tiffany slowly rises and walks through the courtroom toward the podium. She turns to her left to look directly at Brents and begins in a slow but strong voice, "My name is Tiffany Engle and I'm the apartment manager whom you attempted to murder. As you can see, I'm still here. You may have hurt me, but you couldn't beat me."
Brent J. Brents was sentenced to more than 1,300 years in prison, one of the largest sentences ever handed down by a Denver district judge.
Lindsey B. Koehler is managing editor at 5280.