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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Guatemalan immigrant given second chance after allegedly resisting arrest, taking officer’s taser

York-Poquoson Courthouse
York-Poquoson Courthouse

Giving second chances was a key theme Wednesday in an obstruction of justice case against a 24-year-old Guatemalan man.

Luis Ariza Estrada pleaded no contest in what prosecutors called an “attack on a police officer” in May 2016, where Estrada resisted arrest “with extreme force” and took an officer’s taser, police reports state.

When a defendant pleads no contest, they do not admit guilt nor dispute charges against them. Estrada was charged with obstruction of justice and disarming a law enforcement officer of their weapon, according to court documents.

Although Judge Frederick Lowe agreed evidence was sufficient to find Estrada guilty, he gave the 24-year-old an opportunity to turn his life around by withholding a finding of guilt for one year.

“You’re still a young fellow,” Lowe said. “If you can get this behind you, you can probably lead a productive life. But if you squander this opportunity again, it will end the rest of your life.”

According to police reports, Estrada was driving with a suspended license in York County on May 16, 2016. When Estrada pulled into a 7-Eleven convenience store, two York County deputies approached him and asked for his identification.

Estrada smelled of alcohol at the time, and when police attempted to detain him, he “resisted arrest with extreme force,” pulling a taser from an officer’s grasp when the officer tried to tase him, documents state.

After more officers arrived and helped detain Estrada and recover the taser, deputies found marijuana and a “rock crystal substance” in Estrada’a vehicle, documents state.

Estrada was sent to the hospital that night and suffered seizures and other medical issues, his attorney, James Maloney said. He was released from the hospital several days later.

“His behavior doesn’t appear to be born from a desire to harm law enforcement,” Maloney said, referencing Estrada’s past struggles with drugs.

Maloney asked the court to consider Estrada’s addiction, prior positive behavior and strong family support system. Estrada’s mother, father and pastor testified on his behalf Wednesday.

“We never had any trouble with him,” his father, Samuel Ariza, said, adding that he went to church frequently and was responsible for helping out around their home.

If Estrada is convicted, his immigration status and request for citizenship could be denied and he could be deported, Maloney said. Estrada has lived in the United States since he was 7 months old, his father said during testimony. 

Prosecutor Donna Maw called for the court to hold Estrada accountable Wednesday, because he had been given opportunities to succeed before but failed to comply with conditions of the agreement.

A previous plea agreement with a withheld finding was denied in February after Estrada tested positive for marijuana. The agreement was withdrawn.

“I blew it and I do understand that,” Estrada told the judge. “For that little moment in time, I messed up my entire life… But, your honor, I promise if you have mercy and give me that opportunity, you will never see me again.”

Lowe did not make any promises whether he would find Estrada guilty or not guilty when he appears in court next year.

Estrada will be on supervised probation until he appears in court on May 3, 2018. He is required to stay drug- and alcohol-free and obey all state and federal laws.

If he has one positive drug screening, he will immediately return to court and be convicted in the obstruction of justice case, Lowe said.

Fearing may be reached at sarah.f@localvoicemedia.com.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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