(August 27 photo by BETTINA HANSEN/THE SEATTLE TIMES, republished by permission)
4:06 PM: The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has just filed charges against Estevan Sanchez, accused of stealing an SUV from outside the Seamart store in Highland Park last Wednesday, with its owner’s baby daughter in the back seat; the car was ditched in the middle of a street in Greenbridge, with the baby still inside. Sanchez, a 25-year-old Highland Park resident, is charged with second-degree kidnapping and theft of a motor vehicle. As first reported here the night of his arrest, he already had warrants out in connection with domestic-violence cases involving his longtime girlfriend – one relating to an incident this past June in which he allegedly stole her car. “His dangerous and callous actions demonstrate a total disregard for human life and the safety of the entire community,” prosecutors write in the charging documents. More to come.
ADDED 4:24 PM: More from the charging papers’ narrative, signed by deputy prosecuting attorney Ian Ith:
… In this case, Mr. Sanchez looked a pleading father in the eyes and then heartlessly drove away in the terrified man’s car, his 10-month-old daughter still strapped inside. Mr. Sanchez then drove nearly two miles away and abandoned the baby girl inside the car along a White Center side street. …
At the time of the defendant’s conduct in this case, he had two warrants for his arrest for recent criminal activity, one of them also involving a child.
He was wanted on a $75,000 warrant from this court for Domestic Violence Felony Violation of a Court Order and Taking a Motor Vehicle Without Permission (second degree). In that case, Mr. Sanchez is accused of body-slamming his ex-girlfriend and burning her with an electric stun gun before knocking down her 11-year-old daughter and driving off in the ex-girlfriend’s car. He later drove the stolen car into a power pole and ran off.
Mr. Sanchez was also wanted on a $5,000 warrant from Seattle District Court for failing to appear in June for probation violations on an assault (fourth-degree)/domestic-violence conviction for slapping and pulling the hair of the same woman in January 2013.
A month before that incident, in December 2012, he repeatedly and violently assaulted the same woman, including punching her and bashing her head into the dashboard of her car as she drove down the street, causing the vehicle to slam into and topple a light pole. He was convicted of two counts of assault (fourth degree) and one count of reckless endangerment/domestic violence.
The court documents in the defendant’s domestic-violence cases show that he has a fast-accelerating addiction to methamphetamine that is contributing to the violence and lawlessness that he now has turned upon total strangers, including a 10-month-old girl.
The charging documents also include a more detailed narrative from police, with more specifics about how the crime unfolded. We’re transcribing that next.
ADDED 4:50 PM: From the narrative by SPD Det. Nathan Janes:
(The victim) was out and about getting errands done when he stopped at the local store a few blocks away from his house. This store is the Seamart store at 1513 SW Holden Street. (He) was driving their 2013 Ford Edge with his ten-month-old daughter secured in the back seat in a car seat.
(His) Ford Edge is one of the newer vehicles that does not require a physical key placed in the ignition switch to start the car. His car has the newer system where the key fob associated with that car is integral to the functioning of the car. The car can sense its key fob being in proximity to the car, and must be near or inside of the car for the car to start. Several times in the past, (he) has used a function of the car where he can leave the car running to keep the air conditioning or heat on in the car while out of the car. In these instances, when (he) gets out of the car with the key fob and walks away, the car keeps running but the doors lock. Also, if someone inside the car were to attempt to shift the vehicle out of park, while the key fob is outside of the car, the car will not shift out of park. Instead it will turn off the motor. When (he) pulled up to the Sea Mart, he was planning on being gone a short time to grab one item inside and then be right back to the car. He was going to leave his daughter in the car with the A/C running, but with the doors locked, while he was inside.
(He) pulled into the Seamart parking lot and parked where he could see the car. He got out, leaving it running, and started inside. When he turned back, he saw suspect Sanchez walking around his car, and then getting into the driver’s seat of his car. At once he realized the car had not locked itself, maybe because he was still close to the car, less than 20 feet away. (He) ran to the driver’s door of his car (and said), “Hey, my baby is in that car. Don’t take my car.” As (he) said this, Sanchez paused for a second as (they) locked eyes. Sanchez put the car into gear to drive away. (The victim) tried to get in front of the car to keep it from leaving, but Sanchez was able to drive out of the parking lot and drive away.
(The victim) believed his car would turn off the motor as (Sanchez) drove away from him and the key fob, which he still had in his possession. This did not occur; the car did not turn itself off. Sanchez was able to steal the car with (the baby) still in the back seat and drive away.
The interaction … was video-recorded by a security video system owned by the Seamart store. In addition, the clerk at the store witnessed the whole incident. He saw Sanchez look in the victim’s vehicle, open the door and drive away.
Seattle Police patrol officers responded to the 911 calls about this kidnapping and theft of a motor vehicle. (The victim) had gotten a good look at Sanchez and described him to the officers. The officers put out on the police radio the description and license plate of Chris’s stolen vehicle and the physical description of Sanchez …
About fifteen minutes later, King County Sheriff’s Deputies located (the) stolen Ford Edge at 8th Avenue SW and SW 99th Street. (The baby) was still safely strapped in the car seat. She was not hurt. Witnesses saw Sanchez leave the stolen Ford and flee.
Police officers converged on the area attempting to locate Sanchez. By this time, due to information from various witnesses and from Sanchez’s own family members, officers had tentatively identified Sanchez as the suspect who stole the car and kidnapped (the baby). Sanchez’s family said they had not seen him for a couple of hours, and that he was wearing a black shirt and tan pants. On their mobile data computers inside the patrol cars, officers were able to see a photograph of Sanchez.
Seattle police detectives Wade and Thomas were working a two-man car together and were engaged in the search for Sanchez. They too saw a photograph (of him) on their computer. At about 4:17 pm, they saw Sanchez .. walking north on the east side of 17th Avenue SW. It appeared to the detectives that (he) noticed them. (He) went inside the Taqueria Guaymas Mexican restaurant at 1622 SW Roxbury.
Inside (the restaurant), (an employee) was working the counter. She saw Sanchez walk inside. (He) stood at the counter holding a piece of paper. (He) said, “The police are coming,” and stuffed the paper inside his waistband. In uniform, detectives Wade and Thomas entered the restaurant and took Sanchez into custody. As they were handcuffing (him, he) repeatedly said, “I’m sorry.” He was cooperative.
The narrative mentions the warrants already out for Sanchez’s arrest, and that the baby’s father was driven to the restaurant, where he identified Sanchez as the person who stole his car and kidnapped his baby. The narrative continues:
Sanchez was advised of his Miranda rights. While being driven to the police precinct, Det. Wade spoke with Sanchez. He asked (him) why he stole the car. (He) denied stealing it. He said he had been panhandling since he woke up that morning. He said he woke up at his grandma’s house, but that he was really transient and homeless. He said he used his panhandling money to buy cigarettes. Later, at the precinct, when told what he was being arrested for, Sanchez said, “Bro, I’d never hurt a kid. I need to talk to a lawyer.”
Sanchez’s bail remains set at $500,000, by order of Superior Court Jim Rogers, in this case, in addition to the $75,000+ bail for the other warrants. His arraignment is set for September 15th.