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By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian
BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A convicted kidnapper who took an 11-year-old boy from his home and threatened to hurt him unless he received ransom money was sentenced Monday to 20 years, 4 months in prison.
Pablo Casimiro, 29, stood next to his attorney and a Spanish language interpreter as Judge Michael G. Bush pronounced sentence. Casimiro pleaded no contest in December to burglary and four counts of kidnapping a child under 14 years old.
The attorney, Deputy Public Defender Paul Cadman, said the sentence was a “fair disposition,” but also frustrating for Casimiro because he has said foreign drug agents forced him to commit the crime. Cadman stressed that the kidnapped child was not injured.
Prosecutor Dianna Carter said there was no independent corroborating evidence that Casimiro was forced to commit the kidnapping.
Carter said Casimiro could have received a life sentence if convicted at trial, but he would have been eligible for parole in seven years. The plea deal guarantees Casimiro will have to serve at least 85 percent of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole.
Also, the parents of the kidnapped boy didn’t want to subject the boy to having to testify at trial, Carter said. The parents were supportive of the plea deal.
The child’s mother went to work the morning of Nov. 11, 2011 and left her then-11-year-old and 3-year-old sons home alone until a babysitter could get there around 9:30 a.m., the mother told The Californian at the time. Casimiro got to her apartment in the 9900 block of Columbine Street in Lamont first.
The mother, who didn’t give her name, said the older son awoke to a knock at the door about 9 a.m. He answered the door, and a man standing there said he’d heard a room was for rent.
The boy tried to close the door but the man — Casimiro — forced his way inside brandishing a gun, the woman said. Casimiro stole some money from the mother’s room and then left with the 11-year-old.
Casimiro called the mother using a cellphone he got from the boy, and he threatened to kill the boy if she didn’t give him money, she said. The mother rushed home and found the older son missing, and she called authorities.
Kern County sheriff’s deputies — along with several sheriff’s special units and FBI agents — began an investigation and traced calls Casimiro made to the woman to convenience store pay phones in the Lamont and Arvin areas.
Casimiro called again just before 5 p.m. and the call was traced to the Barn Market on South Comanche Drive. Deputies said SWAT team members found Casimiro on the market phone and the boy in his car.
Casimiro was arrested and the boy was taken home scared but unharmed. The mother said her family did not know Casimiro, but the boy told her he had seen Casimiro in his car following him to and from school the two days before the kidnapping.
Sheriff’s officials said Casimiro lived about two blocks from the family, but they didn’t know why he targeted them.