Stanislaus County prosecutors have dropped charges against one of four men accused of participating in a kidnap-for-ransom plot in Patterson about four months ago.
Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Arturo Martinez, 19, of Modesto, who was released from jail after his court appearance Wednesday. He had been in custody since June 18.
The three remaining defendants – Adan Esquivel, Jonathan Figueroa and Victor Sandoval – have been charged with kidnapping for ransom, robbery and assault with a deadly weapon. Sandoval remained a fugitive Thursday.
Authorities have said the suspects took the victim from his rural home in Stanislaus County on June 15 and drove the man to a Patterson home, where they assaulted him for nine hours because they believed he had stolen from them.
The suspects called the victim’s family, demanding $800 to pay them back before they would let him go, according to investigators.
Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputies tracked the victim to a home in the 600 block of Spooner Court. When the victim was allowed to leave the house, deputies took him into protective custody. They later arrested Esquivel, Figueroa and Martinez.
Esquivel, 22, of Patterson; and Figueroa, 22, of Modesto, are scheduled to return to court Nov. 14. Esquivel will appear for a pretrial hearing, and Figueroa will appear for a mental competency hearing.
It’s unclear why Figueroa’s mental competency has come into question. The court has to determine whether he’s mentally fit to be prosecuted.
Esquivel and Figueroa remained in Stanislaus County Jail on Thursday.
Sandoval, 21, of Patterson, is listed as one the county’s most-wanted fugitives on the Crime Stoppers website. Sheriff’s officials say he stands 5 feet 7 inches tall, weighs 190 pounds and has black hair and brown eyes.
Authorities ask anyone with information about Sandoval’s whereabouts to call Crime Stoppers at (209)521-4636. Tipsters can send emails at www.stancrimetips.org or text tips to CRIMES (274637) by typing “Tip704” plus a message. Callers to Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and are eligible for a cash reward.