An armed man who carjacked one vehicle and who eight days later tried to stop another vehicle by firing a shot at the driver has been sent to state prison for 43 years by a Placer County judge who called him a ‘danger’ to the public.
Felipe Ortega, 28, of Sacramento received the sentence Friday from Superior Court Judge Mark S. Curry after pleading no contest on July 15 to a felony count of carjacking and three felony counts of assault with a semiautomatic weapon.
Ortega’s sentence increased by more than double because of his admissions of using a firearm and of having a previous felony strike against him.
Noting that one of Ortega’s victims was in court for the sentencing, prosecutor David Tellman of the Placer County District Attorney’s Office told Curry that the victim ‘was certain she was going to be killed.’
‘Ortega fired a shot at her windshield,’ Tellman said. ‘She has had nightmares and will continue to have them due to the random nature of this act. It’s an event she will never forget in her life.’
Ortega was considered the leader of a three-person group that on two occasions drove a black-colored Lincoln Navigator to follow patrons who were leaving the Tropicana Club in Sacramento late at night.
The first incident occurred Nov. 22, 2008, when the Navigator followed a pickup truck from the nightclub on Arden Way into North Highlands. The culprits forced the truck driver to stop and, at gunpoint, forced him into the Navigator.
Ortega, wearing a black bandana over his face, then drove off in the victim’s truck. The victim was released unharmed.
On Nov. 30, a black Lincoln Navigator followed another vehicle from the Tropicana into the city of Rocklin. On South Grove Street, the victims pulled over to let the Navigator pass. But an occupant in the Navigator jumped out. He wore black clothing, a black bandana over his face and he held a gun.
The driver of the victims’ vehicle put the auto in reverse and fled, but not before the occupants felt the impact of a bullet striking the vehicle.
One of the victims the woman who was in court Friday — called ‘911’ and Rocklin police stopped the suspects’ Navigator on another street. Ortega and two other occupants were arrested.
The two crimes were connected after a Sacramento County Sheriff’s detective read about the Rocklin incident in a newspaper and noticed the similar angle involving the Tropicana Club.
Subsequent investigation determined that items taken from the pickup truck in the North Highlands carjacking turned up in the Lincoln Navigator that was stopped by police in the Rocklin incident.
Rick Opich, a deputy district attorney in Placer County who was the prosecutor when Ortega went through a preliminary hearing before a judge in June 2009, said his office discussed the cases with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office, which allowed Placer to prosecute both incidents.
At Friday’s sentencing, the female victim in the Rocklin case said for her to be in a courtroom gazing at the person who shot at her was difficult.
‘To think that this person wanted to take our lives,’ she said.
And then in Spanish, she told Ortega, ‘May God pardon you because I cannot.’
Ortega, who was facing the judge and had his back to the woman, looked straight ahead without showing emotion.
Also sentenced on Friday was the driver of the Lincoln Navigator, Mirna Corral, 36, who in July entered a plea of no contest to felony robbery, assault and receiving stolen property.
Judge Curry placed Corral on four years probation and gave her one year in the Placer County jail. He cautioned her that she could face six years and eight months in state prison if she violates probation.
The third defendant, Omar Lozano Villicana, 20, was sentenced on Monday (August 30) after pleading no contest to conspiracy and assault. Placer County Superior Court Judge Larry D. Gaddis gave him one year in jail and placed him on probation for four years.