Man receives jail sentence for 2006 Walla Walla-area kidnapping

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WALLA WALLA -- A man was handed a nine-month jail sentence Tuesday afternoon after earlier pleading guilty to kidnapping a woman in 2006.

Juan C. Villegas, 25, who has listed an address in Fontana, Calif., was ordered to serve the midpoint of the standard range of six months to a year for second-degree kidnapping.

In handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge John Lohrmann went along with a prosecution recommendation.

Lohrmann gave Villegas credit for the six months he's already served in jails since his arrest in California in early December. Villegas will be deported to Mexico after serving his sentence, according to his attorney, Jerry Makus.

Villegas initially was charged with first-degree kidnapping, first-degree rape and felony harassment, but the case was reduced in exchange for his guilty plea May 17. He didn't admit guilt, but acknowledged the prosecution has evidence that could convict him and wanted to take advantage of the plea agreement.

Makus told Lohrmann Tuesday that the agreement was a "fair resolution" of the matter, adding that his client and the victim had differing stories as to what occurred.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern said her office always wishes it could do more for victims. But, "Mr. Villegas at least is being held somewhat accountable for his actions."

Lohrmann termed the outcome "a good result."

"We have seen in the past how difficult these cases can be," he said.

Officials alleged Villegas abducted the female acquaintance from outside her place of employment in Walla Walla the afternoon of Nov. 19, 2006. She told authorities Villegas persuaded her to get into his car, drove off and threatened to kill her, according to a police report filed in court.

Villegas took her into the county -- possibly around Lower Waitsburg Road -- where he raped her in the vehicle and then took her home at her urging, officials alleged.

The criminal charges against Villegas were filed in February 2007 and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

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