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Escobar v. Boradhead
United States District Court, D. Arizona
May 8, 2017
Victor Castillo Escobar, Petitioner,
Lyle Boradhead, et al., Respondent.
G. Campbell, United States District Judge
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.
Willett provided the following summary of Petitioner's
sentencing and parole proceedings.
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
(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).
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.”
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).
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