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Escobar v. Boradhead

United States District Court, D. Arizona

May 8, 2017

Victor Castillo Escobar, Petitioner,
v.
Lyle Boradhead, et al., Respondent.

          ORDER

          David G. Campbell, United States District Judge

         On April 6, 2015, Petitioner Victor Castillo Escobar filed a pro se petition for writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254 raising five grounds for relief. Doc. 1 (raising four grounds for relief); Doc. 4 (raising a fifth ground for relief). The Court referred the petition to Magistrate Judge Eileen S. Willett. Doc. 6. Respondent filed a response to the petition (Doc. 15) and a supplemental response (Doc. 21) requested by Judge Willett (Doc. 18). Judge Willett issued a report and a recommendation that the Court deny the habeas petition (“R&R”). Doc. 31. Petitioner filed pro se objections to the R&R. Doc. 35. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will deny Petitioner's objections and adopt Judge Willett's recommendation.

         I. Background.

         Judge Willett provided the following summary of Petitioner's sentencing and parole proceedings.

         A. Convictions and Sentences

On March 18, 2010, a jury convicted Petitioner on the following five counts: (i) participation in a criminal syndicate (Count 1); (ii) smuggling (Count 2); (iii) two counts of kidnapping (Counts 9 and 10), and (iv) forgery (Count 11). (Doc. 26-10 at 43-45, 67- 69). The convictions arose out of the discovery of an operation that involved smuggling undocumented Mexican immigrants into the United States and detaining the immigrants at “drop” houses until certain sums of money were paid.
The jury found aggravating factors for some of the counts, and the trial court sentenced Petitioner to:
(i) Ten years on Count 1 (participation in a criminal syndicate);
(ii) 2.5 years on Count 2 (smuggling);
(iii) Sixteen years on Count 9 (kidnapping);
(iv) Sixteen years on Count 10 (kidnapping); and
(V) 2.5 years on Count 11 (forgery).
The trial court ordered that the sentences on Counts 1 and 2 run concurrently with one another. (Doc. 26-11 at 51-52; Doc. 1-2 at 5). The sixteen-year sentences on Counts 9 and 10 are to be served consecutively to each other and run consecutively to the sentences on Counts 1 and 2. (Id.). The sentence on Count 11 runs concurrently with the sentences on Counts 1, 2, 9, and 10. (Id.). This sentencing structure provides for an aggregate term of forty-two years of incarceration. (Doc. 26-11 at 53).

         B. Direct Appeal

Petitioner timely appealed to the Arizona Court of Appeals. (Doc. 1-2 at 1-6). Petitioner argued that the consecutive sentences on the kidnapping convictions are improper under ARIZ. REV. STAT. § 13-116, which prohibits consecutive sentences for convictions arising from the same act or omission. The Court of Appeals explained that ARIZ. REV. STAT. § 13-116 does not preclude consecutive sentences involving multiple victims. (Id. at 4). The court held that “[e]ven assuming [Petitioner's] crimes arose from a ‘single act, ' because there were two victims and he was convicted of two counts of kidnapping, there was no error by the trial court in imposing consecutive sentences for the kidnapping convictions.” (Id.).
The Court of Appeals also rejected Petitioner's argument that the “kidnappings were such an integral part of the criminal syndicate that the charges must be viewed as a single act.” (Id.). The court first explained that because the victims of the crime of participation in a criminal syndicate are not the same as the kidnapping charges, the sentences for participating in a criminal syndicate conviction may be consecutive to the kidnapping convictions. (Id. at 4-5). The court also explained that the elements of participating in a criminal syndicate and kidnapping are “sufficiently distinct that consecutive sentences may be imposed.” (Id. at 5). The Arizona Supreme Court denied Petitioner's request for review of the Arizona Court of Appeals' decision. (Id. at 8-16).

         C. ...


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