Man sentenced to 22 years in kidnapping case
AZTEC — A 29-year-old Kirtland man was sentenced to 22 years in prison today following his conviction in a 2014 kidnapping case.
Brandon Lee allegedly kidnapped Crystal Begaye, 30, on Dec. 22, 2014, from her Upper Fruitland home and beat her with brass knuckles, according to The Daily Times archives. He then allegedly drove Begaye to an ATM and ordered her to withdraw money.
According to archives, Begaye refused to withdraw money and escaped from Lee by jumping out of his moving vehicle.
A jury found Lee guilty of kidnapping and misdemeanor battery in June.
Prosecutors argued today that Lee is a violent offender with prior felony convictions while his attorney, Stephen Wayne, argued drug use caused Lee to commit the crimes.
“What kind of chance did Mr. Lee ever have to get on the right path?” Wayne asked.
He said Lee was using marijuana and drinking alcohol by the time he was 10 years old and was using cocaine at 14 years old. He argued that Lee kidnapped Begaye while under the influence of drugs.
“The time for treatment and leniency is not right after you commit a first-degree felony,” Assistant District Attorney John Beckstead said.
Beckstead said Lee should have received treatment for his drug addiction following previous felony convictions in 2009 and 2013.
“A young woman jumped out of a moving vehicle at 35 miles per hour to get away from this guy,” he said.
Judge Karen Townsend said the case was very difficult, but she did not see enough evidence to give Lee a lighter sentence.
“He’s been out of control for many years,” Townsend said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.