5/15/2013 9:32:00 AM County attorney's office may protest sentence in kidnapping case
Eduardo Arteaga Vera
PRESCOTT - Eduardo Arteaga Vera, who last month pleaded guilty to kidnapping a teenage girl and attempting to rape her, on Tuesday tried to renege on the plea agreement before the judge refused and sentenced him in a way the county attorney's office said may be incorrect.
Arteaga Vera, 55, offered a ride to a 17-year-old girl as she was walking to work in Prescott Valley in July 2011, said Dwight D'Evelyn, spokesman for the Yavapai County Sheriff's Office.
D'Evelyn said that Arteaga Vera instead drove her to the Drake Road area off Highway 89 along Forest Road 680, and then attempted to sexually assault her.
The victim was able to escape and hid from him.
Attorneys had struggled to negotiate a plea for months, with Arteaga Vera at one point saying, "I want to go to trial... I would like to get out of this problem. But I can't plead guilty to something I didn't do." Finally, last month, with his trial just a week away, he did accept the prosecution's offer to plead guilty to kidnapping with sexual motivation, stalking, and aggravated assault.
But on Tuesday, his attorney, David Shapiro, asked Superior Court Judge Tina Ainley if she had seen a letter Arteaga Vera wrote to her. She had.
"At the time he wrote it, he felt he was coerced into taking this plea by me," Shapiro said.
"I believe the plea was the only reasonable option for Mr. Vera under the circumstances," but, he continued, he felt Arteaga Vera wanted a trial.
Because he had accepted the plea and told the judge he had not been forced, nor promised anything not written into the plea agreement, Deputy County Attorney Steve Sisneros said there would have to be "manifest injustice" for him to get out of it. Since there was none, he said, there was no legal basis to withdraw from it.
"Certainly, it was a difficult decision for Mr. Arteaga Vera to make," Ainley said. "The court gave him every opportunity to make his own decision.
"I don't find a manifest injustice," she said. "I will not allow him to withdraw from the plea."
Through a translator, Arteaga Vera told Ainley, "Sincerely, I never meant to harm anyone. It was not my intention. I'll never do again what I did. This is a wake-up call for me to change the way I live."
Ainley sentenced him to 1.5 years in prison on the stalking charge, with 664 days credit for time he's already served, and then one year on the aggravated assault charge, to be served consecutively. She said he would get no credit for the second sentence, which is the general rule: no credit for consecutive sentences, said Chief Deputy County Attorney Dennis McGrane.
One-and-a-half years is 547 days, which effectively wipes out the first sentence; that leaves 116 days' credit. Since Ainley specified that he cannot have credit for time served for the second sentence, those 116 days are an issue, McGrane said.
"In my 18 years, I've never run into this," he said. "The state is going to be working with the defense to see if (the rule about consecutive sentences) does apply. We'll be seeking redress with the court if, in fact, that is appropriate."
Asked why the prosecution is protesting, McGrane said, "Because that's what I am charged with doing. If the defense attorney didn't catch it, and we did, then we have an obligation."
Ainley also sentenced Arteaga Vera to seven years' probation with sex offender terms on the kidnapping charge, and mandated that he register as a sex offender for 10 years.
She told him she hoped the sentence would "strike a balance" between punishment and helping him when he is released.
Posted: Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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I had to read this article twice and still can't believe what I read. PROBATION for kidnapping a 17 year old girl...OUTRAGOUS! He should be locked up for years and years. He will do it again because he is a predator and a sick scummy dog of a man! He has learned not to leave any witnesses..thats the only thing he learned, as for him being sorry, the only thing he is sorry about is that he got caught! Shame on he courts,Shame on the judge!