Nevada County judge hands down sentence in Layla Callahan kidnapping case
The kidnapping case of Layla Callahan could have gone in a number of directions Monday.
Callahan’s defense attorney sought the case’s dismissal, arguing prosecutors had failed to disclose key information about a witness described as not credible.
The Nevada County District Attorney’s Office wanted eight years in prison for Callahan, 24.
Instead Superior Court Judge Candace Heidelberger sentenced Callahan to five years’ probation, giving her the chance to ask for an early termination of that sentence after three years.
If Callahan violates probation, she faces up to five years in prison.
It was a sentence Callahan knew was coming when she pleaded no contest to simple kidnapping earlier this year. The judge had said Callahan would face probation regardless of whether she went to trial or pleaded.
The judge called the accusations against Callahan serious. She commended Callahan for the steps she’s taken since her release on bond, adding it doesn’t change what happened in February 2017.
Speaking briefly, Callahan told the judge her time in jail was educational.
“I am grateful for my incarceration,” she said. “The lifestyle that I was living at that time was wrong.”
Authorities in February 2017 accused Callahan and David Munoz, 27, of holding Christopher Ross over a drug debt. Munoz late last year pleaded no contest to second-degree robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment. Heidelberger sentenced Munoz to five years’ probation.
Callahan served a year in jail before bonding out.
Defense attorney Zenia Gilg, who represents Callahan, argued the judge should have dismissed the kidnapping case. She claimed prosecutorial misconduct, saying the District Attorney’s Office withheld key evidence. Gilg also noted that Ross faces criminal accusations and argued prosecutors chose not to charge him with series crimes.
“This is either the most gross incompetence or it’s an attempt to clean the record of (Ross),” Gilg said.
Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said his office has pending cases against Ross. The prosecutor hasn’t yet decided whether to charge Ross on other accusations.
Walsh added that he’s tried to comply with all requirements, and given Gilg evidence in the case.
Heidelberger said she found no prosecutorial misconduct, and that Walsh’s office wasn’t lenient with Ross to gain an advantage in Callahan’s case. However, she said she has concerns about how the case was handled.
Callahan originally faced seven years to life in prison on her original charges of torture, kidnapping, robbery and false imprisonment. A judge dismissed the torture accusation months ago. Prosecutors dismissed the robbery and false imprisonment charges.
“You’ve been doing a great job and you have to continue doing a great job,” the judge told Callahan. “Good luck to you.”
To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4239.
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