November 26, 2013 Updated: November 26, 2013 at 4:54 pm
So it wasn't the evil twin, after all.
A Fort Carson officer who planned to argue at trial that he has been blamed for the child sex crimes of his identical twin has instead pleaded guilty.
First Lt. Aaron Gregory Lucas, 32, will serve 20 years to life in prison after acknowledging his guilt Tuesday in a series of El Paso County sex crimes ranging from indecent exposure to kidnapping and rape, all involving girls aged 4 to 10.
His sentence will be imposed Feb. 28 by 4th Judicial District Judge David Shakes.
Authorities say the crimes involved an assailant wearing military fatigues and occurred between 2009 and 2012 in Colorado Springs, Fountain and unincorporated Stratmoor Valley. The incidents stopped during a yearlong period that Lucas was deployed to Afghanistan.
Most of the girls were approached near their homes or while walking home from school. One girl, 8, was sexually assaulted in June 2012 after being forced into a car outside her home.
Wearing an orange El Paso County jail jumpsuit and seated at the defense table with his hands and legs cuffed, Lucas admitted to crimes involving nine of the 11 children named as victims in the case. Prosecutors agreed to toss the remaining charges, saying they wanted to spare the children from being "revictimized" by having to testify.
The admissions avert a Jan. 4 trial and cap one of the El Paso County's strangest defenses in recent memory - the "evil twin defense."
Linked by DNA to the 8-year-old's abduction and rape in El Paso County and similar attacks on young girls in Texarkana, Texas, and Madison, Ala., Lucas' attorneys intended to argue that his twin brother committed the attacks.
The sensational claim was based on the notion that identical twins share DNA, and though it introduced a legal wrinkle worthy of a television drama, the theory was far from ironclad, observers say.
Prosecutors Jennifer Darby and Kelson Castain say they were ready for the defense and were investigating whether forensic testing could have distinguished the twins by their genetic profiles despite courtroom admonitions by forensic scientists that DNA is a smoking gun only "in the absence of an identical twin."
They also would have introduced evidence that the twin, Brian Frederick Lucas, wasn't present in any of the states involved when crimes were committed.
"Looking at the evidence, it really was the only thing they could have argued," said prosecutor Castain in comments characterizing the move as a legal "Hail Mary."
Aaron Lucas' attorney, Ted McClintock, called the defense a "legal tactical decision" and said Lucas pleaded guilty because "he wanted to do the right thing."
"He loves his family. He doesn't want to create problems for them."
Asked about the implications of the "evil twin" defense on Lucas' family, McClintock added: "Certainly there's been stress on the family. But they still love and support him."
Lucas' relatives did not attend the hearing, during which
Lucas addressed a judge's questions in a soft voice, answering "Yes, your Honor," as Shakes asked if prosecutors' recitations of each crime were accurate.
The disgraced artillery officer showed no signs of remorse and balked just once, when prosecutors alleged that the kidnapping victim had been forced into a car. McClintock told the judge "it was more of an enticement situation."
Under terms of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to dismiss remaining charges and Lucas agreed to waive extradition to Texarkana, Texas, where he is implicated in a 2009 sexual assault on a young girl.
Authorities in Madison, Ala., agreed not to charge Lucas for a similar crime in 2007.
None of the girls was present in court Tuesday. Their parents and supporters filled the gallery and are expected to address the court at sentencing.