Aaron Graser, 39, has pleaded guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault and violation of probation on Tuesday at Superior Court in Danielson, Connecticut.
Graser, the prosecutor told the judge, “had sex with a woman who had expired.”
At the word “expired,” several heads snapped as lawyers and defendants waiting for their cases to be called turned to watch, listen more closely, and eyeball Graser.
For his crimes, Graser was sentenced to a year in prison, but was spared placement on the state’s sex offender registry after the judge found “registration is not required for public safety based upon the facts in this case.”
The case began in January, when Willimantic police received a 911 call about an unresponsive woman. Officers arrived and found heroin and needles near the woman and tried without success to revive her. A medical examiner would later tell police the woman was dead before anyone called 911.
The woman was Graser’s girlfriend, and a detective began to question him as others examined the scene inside the apartment. A detective spotted ligature marks on the woman’s wrists and ankles. And Graser wondered aloud to a detective whether they suspected his arrest months earlier for choking the woman could be relevant.
So Graser began to talk. He told detectives he found his girlfriend, unresponsive and tried to wake her up. She was sitting and hunched over on their bed, and heroin and drug paraphernalia were on her lap.
“Aaron stated that he laid the victim down the bed and he rubbed her sternum,” according to the warrant for his arrest. “Aaron stated he listened to see if the victim was breathing and he heard gurgling. Aaron stated he knew the victim hated having sex with him so he figured that the victim might wake up if he had sex with her.”
Questioned further, Graser admitted to detectives that he tied the woman’s ankles and wrists to bed posts “because it was a fetish of his.” After he finished, he untied her, put her pants on and called in his neighbor, a former paramedic who later told police she believed the woman had been dead for a couple of hours.
An autopsy determined that the woman was dead when Graser had sex with her. The ligatures were the key. Had the woman still been alive, there would have been bruises under her skin. No bruises meant no blood was flowing at the time, the medical examiner told police, according to the warrant. As for the gurgling Graser said he heard, that could have been decomposition gases escaping the woman’s body, an investigator from the medical examiner’s office told police.
The woman’s cause of death was determined to be a drug overdose. Toxicology testing revealed high levels of fentanyl, heroin and another synthetic drug.
Graser was initially charged with second-degree sexual assault, but pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of fourth-degree sexual assault of a corpse.