Fort Worth ex-con gets 99 years for robbery, evading arrest

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

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FORT WORTH -- A man who drove the getaway car for a man who physically assaulted a TCU student and stole her purse received a 99-year prison sentence for his attempt to elude police during a high-speed chase.

Jesse Castanuela, 28, of Fort Worth, was convicted Wednesday of robbery and evading arrest charges. The jury deliberated less than three hours before assessing a 99-year sentence on the evading charge and a 50-year sentence on the robbery charge. The sentences will run concurrently. Castanuela must serve at least 30 years before he is eligible for parole, according to a news release from the district attorney's office.

During the trial in state District Judge Mike Thomas' court, prosecutors presented evidence that on Sept. 21, 2011, two female TCU students had just left the Kroger at University Drive and were walking back toward campus when Castanuela pulled up behind them in a red Ford Escort. Castanuela's passenger, Cristian Jaimes, got out of the car and began punching one of the women in the head. He wrestled her purse away and jumped back into the Escort.

A truckload of teenagers witnessed the attack, called 911 and started chasing the car. At one point, Castanuela pulled over and the teenagers confronted him and Jaimes before Castanuela sped away. A short time later, police stopped Castanuela, but he took off when officers approached his car.

Castanuela led police on a five-mile chase that reached speeds in excess of 100 mph. Police spiked the Escort's tires but the pursuit continued until Castanuela lost control on South Henderson Street and crashed into another motorist.

During the punishment phase of the trial, jurors heard about Castanuela's prior convictions in Dallas and Tom Green Counties for aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14, indecency with a child, failure to register as a sex offender and felony criminal mischief. The jury was also told that Castanuela was a documented gang member and saw pictures of his numerous tattoos, which are sexually explicit or pay tribute to his gang.

In July, jurors sentenced Christian Jaimes, 30, the passenger in Castanuela's car, to 19 years in prison for stealing the woman's purse.

Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752

Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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