Kidnapping Turns into Potential Felony Murder – Why Fleeing is Not Your Best Option

April 7, 2022 Criminal Defense, Violent Crimes

In the heat of the moment, people are faced with a fight or flee knee-jerk reaction when dealing with stressful confrontations. This response is often thought of as a defense mechanism from older times when our instincts were poised to keep us alive in dangerous situations. In today’s age, however, ignoring these instincts might not just be smarter, but could save a life.

So, could your instinct to flee from the police get you into more trouble than simply staying and talking to them? A case in north Jacksonville seems to point to yes, you can find yourself in serious legal trouble by fleeing from law enforcement. This case involved a fleeing kidnapper who was apprehended and taken into custody by law enforcement after she crashed into a pond when exiting Highway I-95, leading to the death of the kidnapped 5-year old victim. Details and potential charges of this case will be explored throughout the blog, ultimately showing that following your primal instinct to flee can not only result in physical harm but result in life-altering legal repercussions.

Fleeing the Police – How did it Start?

On March 31, 2022, a 5-year-old Florida girl was killed when her mother, who was being pursued by police got off an interstate ramp and drove into a retention pond. The kidnapper, Pamela T. Cabrera, had a history of mental illness and did not have custody of the kidnapped child. She was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder according to The Sun. On the night of the event, the police received a call around 7:30 PM regarding an ongoing kidnapping, Officer Christian Hancock said during a news conference later that evening. The kidnapper was allegedly armed with a knife during the kidnapping.

As officers responded to the call, an officer who was on his way to the scene came upon the kidnapper’s vehicle. When the officer approached the vehicle at a red light, the kidnapper became aware of the officer and started to speed off. This resulted in police pursuing the armed suspect for about 30 miles, with the suspect going at 90 mph during the chase.

As the kidnapper exited the highway, she drove into a pond and the police immediately started diving operations. The police were able to apprehend the kidnapper in the water, but the child victim was not found until later that evening at the bottom of the pond.

So, what can one person expect after these acts transpire? What is the kidnapper likely to be charged with, and how do all these acts come together?

Fleeing to Elude

While this matter did involve a high-speed car chase, this is not always the case for this kind of charge. A person who simply runs away on foot from the police could also be charged with fleeing to elude arrest. According to the kidnapper’s JSO inmate information (JSO ID: 854084), she is currently being charged with multiple felonies, one of them fleeing to elude at high speeds with a resulting death.

Under Florida Statute Section 316.1935, it is illegal in the state of Florida to flee or attempt to flee from the police. To prove fleeing to elude took place, the event must have taken place when the police officer was in an authorized vehicle, with the agency markings properly displayed. This traffic offense is a third-degree felony and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. That’s not all though, as the penalties can be enhanced depending on the driver’s speed when fleeing, the manner demonstrated by the driver towards the safety of other people or property, and any serious bodily injury or death that occurs to others as a result of the driver’s actions.

To read more about fleeing to elude, visit our blog here. Furthermore, to read about a recent viral spring break video that resulted in a fleeing to elude charge, visit our blog here.  

Felony Murder

Felony murder is applicable when an alleged homicide occurs in the middle of another qualifying felony or even an attempted felony. Homicide is normally defined simply as the killing of another person. In the above case, the kidnapper is also being charged with vehicular homicide, as she could be liable for anything that happened to the victim while the victim was being held against her will.

Under Florida Statute Section 782.04(3), when a person is killed in the middle of, or during an attempt to, commit another felony such as arson, robbery, kidnapping, or escape, to name a few, the person who engaged or attempted to engage in the above felonies can be found liable for murder in the second degree. At the lowest, murder is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 15 years of probation, and up to a $10,000 fine, increasing to the death penalty or life in prison in the most serious of cases. To learn more about felony murder and applicable sentences depending on the charge and degree, visit our blog post here.

To read more about Homicide and Murder Defenses, visit our blog here.

Kidnapping – Not Something to be Taken Lightly

Whatever reason this person had for kidnapping the 5-year-old victim, most people would have a hard time justifying or explaining a kidnapping to the police without some legal assistance. While she is not currently charged with kidnapping, the sheriff’s office has repeatedly stated that more charges could be incoming as the investigation progresses.

Under Florida Statute Section 787.01 a kidnapping occurs when someone is preventing another person from going where they want, by either restraining or confining them in a way that holds the person against their will. Depending on the specifics of the case, this can either result in false imprisonment or kidnapping charges. Kidnapping is a first-degree felony that’s punishable by up to life in prison, while false imprisonment is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. To learn more about Kidnapping and/or False Imprisonment, visit our blog here.

Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida

If you or a loved one has been accused of kidnapping, murder, or fleeing to elude the police, it is of the utmost importance to seek out the help of an experienced  Tallahassee criminal defense attorney. Especially if there was the inclusion of felony murder in the charge, you could be facing serious consequences if convicted. A quality attorney will be able to assist you through the legal ups and downs of a criminal charge. Don Pumphrey and his team at Pumphrey Law Firm have experience representing clients from all over the state of Florida. Call (850) 681-7777 or send an online message today for a free consultation.

Written by Jesus Lozano

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