Accused Kidnapper Of Santa Clarita Woman Killed In Crash Could Face Death Penalty
The man accused of kidnapping a Santa Clarita woman and causing her death is being held without bail in downtown Los Angeles awaiting arraignment on murder charges with special circumstances.
Lilian Janeth Pleitez-Duarte, 36, was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Jeffrey Minifie of Los Angeles. During an apparent kidnapping, she was fatally injured in a traffic collision with police in pursuit last week. LA Weekly has reported that Pleitez-Duarte was the mother of two daughters, ages 7 and 13 and a son, age 15.
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On Thursday, Feb. 16, shortly after 8 a.m., LAPD Central Area officers on patrol came across a black GMC Yukon that was being sought in connection with a kidnapping in progress in the area of Wilshire Boulevard and Bixel Street.
The suspect driver tried to get away from the officers, but after a short pursuit, hit a Volvo head-on at 6th and Carondolet Streets, killing Pleitez and causing the driver of the Volvo to suffer a broken collarbone.
Immediately after the collision, the 39-year-old Minifie attempted to run away from the scene on foot, but was later apprehended.
A subsequent investigation revealed Minifie and Pleitez had been involved in a relationship and that the incident started at the suspect’s residence. The exact motive for the kidnapping is unknown; however, detectives have associated it with domestic violence. Minifie remains in custody, and is being held without bail.
On Tuesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed murder charges with special circumstances against Minifie for “kidnaping with great bodily injury,” a charge that could allow prosecutors to pursue the death penalty. On Wednesday, Minifie’s arraignment was postponed to March 7; he was not in court due to medical issues.
Anyone with information regarding this crime is asked to call Rampart Area Detective Pere at (213) 484-3440.