A former U.S. Army staff sergeant was lawfully sentenced to 10 years in prison for a scheme that led to the kidnapping and sexual abuse of the daughter of another Fort Huachuca soldier in 2019, the Arizona Court of Appeals has ruled.
The unanimous May 10 decision rejects a claim by Luis R. Burgos-Castro that a five-year prison term for his scheme to get a friend of his daughter alone in a Sierra Vista apartment and the five-year term for kidnapping the 17-year-old girl should be served at the same time, not consecutively.
Court records show Burgos-Castro lied to the victim and her father in late 2019, convincing them he was hosting an off base party to celebrate his daughter’s acceptance to college. But there was no party; instead, Burgos-Castro took the victim to an apartment where he engaged in sexual contact with her until she was able to contact her father.
Burgos-Castro subsequently pled guilty to kidnapping, fraudulent schemes and artifices, luring a minor for sexual exploitation, attempted sexual assault, sexual abuse, and possession of a dangerous drug. A Cochise County judge had discretion in sentencing, with the prosecutor pushing for a total 15 years in prison based in part on the fact Burgos-Castro served as a Battalion Sexual Assault Victim Advocate in the Army from 2016-2018.
In that role, he received special training in order to help victims of sexual harassment and assault.
But Burgos-Castro provided the judge several letters of support in a move for leniency. His attorney argued probation was an appropriate sentence due to Burgos-Castro’s military service and ongoing struggle with a drug addiction.
In addition, Burgos-Castro argued that if the judge was going to impose prison time, then the kidnapping offense and the fraudulent scheme offense constituted a single act. As such, he argued those prison terms needed to be served together, not back-to-back.
The judge rejected the single act argument and ordered two consecutive five-year prison terms which are ineligible for early release credits. Burgos-Castro later filed a petition for post-conviction relief, seeking to have his release date modified to 2024 instead of 2029. Another Cochise County judge dismissed the petition without conducting a hearing.
It was that ruling which the Arizona Court of Appeals was asked to review earlier this year.
“Because Burgos-Castro’s consecutive prison terms are authorized by law, the trial court did not err in summarily dismissing his petition for post-conviction relief,” the decision states. “Therefore, although we grant review, we deny relief.”
Chief Judge Garye Vásquez authored the decision in which Presiding Judge Peter Eckerstrom and Judge Philip Espinosa concurred.
The petition for post-conviction relief filed by Burgo-Castro did not challenge the provision of his sentencing order which requires lifetime probation for the sexual abuse offense. He must also register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.
READ MORE ABOUT THE CASE HERE