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Kidnaper Faces 25 Years, Restitution Debt of $4,000

Associated Press

A man accused of kidnaping a Tucson pizza delivery girl last year and taking her to California was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison.

James Williams Lewis Jr., 37, was also ordered by a Federal Court Judge here to pay more than $4,000 in restitution, including $140 he allegedly took from the kidnapping victim, and $384 that belongs to her employer.

Philip Espinosa, an assistant U.S. attorney, said the remainder of the $4,000 would be paid to Hippolito Medrano, a Blythe, Calif., farmer whose car allegedly was stolen and wrecked by Lewis.

Lewis told the judge he was “sorry this whole thing happened” and his attorney, David Gerson, asked for a 10-year prison term as “more than adequate punishment.” He also asked that Lewis be treated for drug and alcohol problems.

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Lewis, who was convicted by a federal jury in February, told the judge that he planned to appeal his sentence.

During the trial, Espinosa described the kidnaping as an “18-hour nightmare of a journey.”

The victim, Wendi Weinman, 18, testified that she had just made a pizza delivery when Lewis flagged down her car about 10:30 p.m. on Aug. 5. Lewis told her he had a gun and ordered her to drive away with him, Weinman testified.

Gerson told the jury there was no kidnaping, as Weinman had numerous opportunities to leave Lewis. Gerson also said Lewis was “a little wacky” from some of the “hundreds and maybe thousands of pills” he had with him. Lewis did not take the stand during his trial.

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Weinman, now a University of Arizona physics student, and Rebecca Hamacher, Lewis’ companion, testified that Lewis took pills possibly only once during the trip and that he also drank beer.

Weinman said she telephoned her father from Indio, Calif., after getting away from Lewis. At about the same time, Hamacher flagged down police officers in Indio. She was arrested on a kidnaping charge that was dropped a few days later.

Lewis was arrested in Palm Desert, about 10 miles west of Indio, soon afterward.


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