Man sentenced for dragging 15-year-old during iPhone theft

Composite image with background photo of, 5th District Court in St. George, Utah, August 2019. Inset photo of Anthony Alamillo, 23, during sentencing hearing in 5th District Court, St. George, Aug. 13, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The man accused of dragging a 15-year-old during an iPhone theft last year was sentenced in 5th District Court in what Judge John J. Walton said was the hardest call he  has made on whether to send a young man to prison.

Anthony Alamillo, 23, of St. George, appears in court for sentencing via video feed, St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Anthony Alamillo, 23, appeared Thursday afternoon for his sentencing hearing on a first-degree felony aggravated robbery charge after the defendant admitted to his part in the incident and pleaded guilty to the charge during a hearing held in June.

The case stems from an incident that took place July 27, 2019, when a 15-year-old girl was looking to sell her iPhone. Alamillo’s wife, Braelie, expressed interest in purchasing the phone from the girl, but when it appeared Braelie Alamillo was actually attempting to steal the iPhone, the girl reached into the couple’s car to retrieve it.

Instead of giving the phone back, police state that Braelie Alamillo began punching the teen in the head and shoulder area. Anthony Alamillo then allegedly sped off with the teen still halfway inside the vehicle. She dropped out of the vehicle as it was traveling at more than 40 mph, and her foot was run over. The couple was arrested later that night after they were located by police.

During Thursday’s sentencing hearing, prosecutor Rebekah-Anne Gebler said the state agreed with the recommendations outlined in the presentence report, based on Anthony Alamillo’s “disregard for human life,” as well as his disregard for supervision. She supported this assertion with the fact that Alamillo was on probation when the incident took place and had failed to comply with court support services and Adult Probation and Parole on a consistent basis.

Alamillo has also received 21 write-ups since he was taken into custody 14 months ago, Gebler said, many of which were related to damaging jail and other inmate property, refusing to comply with officers’ orders and harassing jail staff and other inmates.

The mother of the teen who was run over during the incident also addressed the court with a victim impact statement and requested that Alamillo be sent to prison. She told Walton the incident was “very traumatic” for her daughter and continues to be a troubling situation for the family, as they are fearful of retaliation.

Defense attorney Caleb Cottam told the court that he agreed it was a “very terrible incident” and expressed his own sorrow for what happened to the teen and for all the family has gone through – “and continue to go through.”

Defense attorney Caleb Cottam appears in 5th District Court via video feed for Anthony Alamillo’s sentencing hearing, St. George, Utah, Aug. 13, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

However, he went on to say that after many conversations with his client, Cottam believes that “prison is not the way to go in this case,” adding that Alamillo has taken responsibility for his actions and is “very sorry for what happened.”

Cottam also said that his client acknowledges the problems that led up to the incident that took place in July. He cited a letter received by the court from a relative who is taking care of the defendant’s children, which stated the defendant had “a very rough childhood,” a detail that was also mentioned in the presentence report.

Cottam went on to say that the family hasn’t given up on the defendant, “and I don’t think the court should either.” He asked the court to consider the time Alamillo has already spent in jail and to send his client to treatment in lieu of prison so that he can get substance abuse and mental health treatment he needs.

Alamillo also addressed the court by apologizing to the victim, saying “I’ve sat here in jail for over a year, and I regret everything I’ve done.” He added that he has two daughters of his own, “and I can’t imagine what her mother and father are going through.”

He also said he cannot change anything that happened and has done most of his time “in the hole” or alone in a cell as a result of his actions while in custody, and he told the judge, “I want help – I’ve never had that before.”

During sentencing, Walton called the Alamillo case “difficult.”

“It’s probably the hardest call I’ve had to make in recent memory as to whether someone should go to prison or not,” he said, adding that he is “sensitive to the victim and her family,” as well as the incredible brutality shown during the incident.

However, Walton said he had “no desire to send a 23-year-old man to prison to spend the next several years” and that he preferred to follow the sentencing guidelines proposing jail time as opposed to what was outlined in the presentencing report, which recommended prison. He also said when a young man is sent to prison, “more often than not” they become career criminals.

The problem, the judge said, is that Alamillo has been in an environment of “forced sobriety” while in custody, adding that mental health issues may have played a role in Alamillo’s actions while in jail. When asked, Alamillo said the only attempt at any type of treatment for those issues was started by a foster parent when he was a child but was not followed through with once he left foster care.

File photo of District Judge John J. Walton in 5th District Court in St. George, Utah, March 30, 2020 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

Taking into account that Alamillo did not have a lengthy criminal record, as well as the mental health factors and other issues that were at play, Walton ordered that the prison term of 1-15 years be suspended, a ruling that was accompanied by a stern warning to Alamillo.

“If you come in front of this court and you don’t do what you are required to do in treatment … or you commit any violent offense – or an offense of any kind – you will go straight to prison.”

Alamillo was then sentenced to serve one year in jail and was placed on 48-months probation with Adult Probation and Parole, time which the defendant has already served. He was also ordered to obtain a mental health evaluation and follow all requirements as set forth by the court.

The felony charge of damaging a jail was reduced to a misdemeanor, and the 365-day jail term was suspended. On the drug charge filed shortly after the defendant’s arrest last year, Walton ordered Alamillo to serve one year in jail, with the stipulation he would be released into a substance abuse treatment facility after serving 90 days of the sentence.

Walton closed by telling Alamillo this was likely the last chance for him to address his substance abuse and mental health issues and to “live your life a different way.” He said if Alamillo chooses to continue victimizing people going forward, “I will make sure there is a prison bed available for you for a long, long prison sentence.”

Alamillo has remained in custody without bail since the arrest, while his wife and co-defendant, Braelie Alamillo, was released in November after posting bond on $10,000 bail. She then pleaded guilty to the charge in April and is currently in a residential treatment program for substance abuse. She is scheduled to be sentenced in September.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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