A man in the country illegally was released from a North Carolina jail on assault charges days before he kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and tried to kill her, according to federal prosecutors.
Now he’ll spend the next two decades behind bars.
A federal judge sentenced 38-year-old Luis Analberto Pineda-Anchecta, who is from Honduras, to 20 years in prison and five years of supervised release on Tuesday after a jury found him guilty on kidnapping charges last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina said in a news release.
The case against Pineda-Anchecta revolved around “a series of violent acts between the defendant and victim that escalated over time,” U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad Jr. said in the release.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement previously touted Pineda-Anchecta as an example of the alleged safety risks associated with local sheriff’s departments not honoring immigration detainers, The Charlotte Observer reported.
Detainers are requests by ICE for local law enforcement to hold an individual in jail until ICE can pick them up.
ICE had issued a detainer for Pineda-Anchecta in May 2019 after the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office arrested him on domestic assault charges, according to the Observer. He was released on bond instead.
Four days later, prosecutors said he kidnapped his ex-girlfriend and drove her to a fishing hole where he allegedly planned to kill her.
A timeline of events
Pineda-Anchecta was deported in 2006 after entering the U.S. illegally, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden previously told the Observer.
On April 3, 2019, he reportedly tried to strangle his ex-girlfriend — referred to only as F.M. in court documents — while threatening to kill her. Ten days later, he followed her home and tried to grab her, according to prosecutor’s sentencing documents. When her son tried to intervene, Pineda-Anchecta is accused of slamming him to the ground.
F.M. got a protective order against him shortly thereafter, prosecutors said. He was arrested about a month later on May 15, 2019, and charged with assault on a female and communicating threats, court documents state.
Though ICE issued a detainer, prosecutors said Pineda-Anchecta was released on bond on May 17, 2019.
F.M. was in her apartment complex parking lot on May 21, 2019, when Pineda-Anchecta allegedly kidnapped her, McClatchy News reported. Prosecutors said he put a plastic rope around her neck and forced her into the passenger seat of a Ford Fusion, telling her, “I love you and I’m going to kill you.”
Pineda-Anchecta then took her to a wooded area off Lancaster Highway where he liked to fish, law enforcement said.
A struggle ensued for 10 minutes while he reportedly tried to rape F.M., prosecutors said. She managed to escape when Pineda-Anchecta tripped on the plastic rope that bound her.
F.M. left the rope hanging in the trees before she ran into the roadway and flagged down two cars for help, prosecutors said in court documents. Pineda-Anchecta fled on foot.
A few days later, he was arrested after an hours-long standoff with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. Pineda-Anchecta was released again on bond in early June and picked up by ICE the next day, prosecutor’s sentencing documents state.
‘Not a mere kidnapping’
Two different federal cases against Pineda-Anchecta ensued, court filings show.
On June 6, 2019, he was charged with illegal re-entry. Pineda-Anchecta pleaded guilty and was sentenced on Jan. 7, 2020, to seven months in prison.
Within a few days of his sentencing hearing, court documents show Pineda-Anchecta was indicted on kidnapping charges. He was found guilty in June.
A public defender appointed to represent Pineda-Anchecta had pushed the judge for a 10-year prison sentence, saying prosecutors “manipulated his criminal history” and unfairly classified the plastic rope with which he allegedly bound and dragged his ex-girlfriend as a “dangerous weapon.”
“A decade in prison followed by deportation back to Honduras is the appropriate punishment in this case that will fulfill the sentencing purposes,” the public defender wrote in sentencing documents.
But prosecutors disagreed, pointing to the way Pineda-Anchecta allegedly used the rope to “control, harm, and potentially kill” his victim.
“Pineda should not benefit because he was unsuccessful in his attempt to sexually assault and then kill his former girlfriend,” they wrote.
The judge agreed, opting Tuesday for a greater sentence because of the severity of the allegations.
“This was not a mere kidnapping,” he said, according to the news release. “But that the defendant intended to kill the victim.”