COA upholds 75-year sentence in kidnapping, confinement

A man who stalked and kidnapped two women at gunpoint and led police on a vehicle chase couldn’t persuade the Indiana Court of Appeals to reduce his aggregate 75-year sentence.

While she was in a grocery store parking lot, Anahi Dominguez was approached and ordered at gunpoint to get into Wilmer Francisco Figueroa-Estrada’s vehicle. He took her to a wooded area next to the English Village Apartments, tied Dominguez to a tree with a white rope and gagged her. Estrada then stole Dominguez’s cellphone and texted her family, demanding a $5,000 ransom and ordering them not to notify authorities.

A few days later, the same thing happened with another woman, Helen Mercado, in the parking lot of her apartment complex. Estrada ordered her into his vehicle at gunpoint and threated to kill her if her family didn’t pay $8,000 in ransom. Mercado, whom Estrada had been stalking for two days using her photograph, had shared her cell-phone location with a friend who was able to pinpoint her location.

A cross-county, high-speed chase ensued when officers attempted to conduct a traffic stop on Estrada’s vehicle with Mercado inside, which ultimately ended when the vehicle crashed into a utility pole. Estrada fled on foot, and officers who pursued him found Estrada holding a bystander in a headlock with a putty knife against the bystander’s throat.

Once Estrada was apprehended, Mercado was found injured and bleeding. A loaded handgun was also found in the vehicle, as well as a white rope, two bandanas, a pair of black and yellow gloves, and various documents and photos related to Estrada.

He was convicted of Level 2 felony kidnapping, three counts of Level 2 felony criminal confinement, Level 6 felony resisting law enforcement, Class A misdemeanor resisting law enforcement, and Class A misdemeanor carrying a handgun without a license.

Estrada’s appeal of his convictions and sentence based on continuous crime doctrine was rejected by the Indiana Court of Appeals after it concluded that his right to challenge had been waived when he pleaded guilty. It further noted that Estrada’s sentence was not inappropriate, despite his contentions that it should be reduced.

“Estrada’s offenses were serious and dangerous,” Judge Terry Crone wrote in a memorandum decision. “… Specifically, Estrada’s offenses involved a high level of danger and trauma, not merely for the victims but also for their families.

“… All three of Estrada’s victims were random strangers who were minding their own business at the time he accosted/abducted them. In each instance, he used a weapon, and he traumatized and endangered them,” the panel continued. “Estrada’s conduct exceeded the requirements for conviction and does not militate toward a reduced sentence.”

The case is Wilmer Francisco Figueroa-Estrada v. State of Indiana (mem. dec.),19A-CR-336.

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