After he realized he'd stolen a car with an 18-month-old girl in the back seat, Adan Ozuna dumped the vehicle at a friend's house, leaving the toddler alone and without heat for more than six hours on a cold January morning.
On Monday, the 35-year-old Bensenville man was sentenced to six years in prison for the crime, described by a DuPage County judge as “egregious” and “heart-wrenching” for the child's mother.
“You stole more than a car that night — you ended up stealing a mother and child's sense of security,” Judge Daniel Guerin told the defendant while imposing a near-maximum term.
Ozuna took the Buick Rendezvous just after 12:30 a.m. Jan. 10 from outside an apartment building on the 900 block of West Irving Park Road in Bensenville. The owner had left the vehicle running while she helped her intoxicated boyfriend into his apartment, Assistant State's Attorney Cathy DeLaMar said.
Ozuna told police he planned to pick up his pregnant girlfriend from work but quickly realized there was a child strapped into carrier in the back seat. He drove less than a mile before ditching the vehicle — and the child — in a friend's driveway and fleeing to Mount Prospect, according to prosecutors.
DeLaMar said the child was unattended for more than six hours in 20-degree weather before the car was found and reported to police.
“(Ozuna) couldn't even leave the car running for her,” she said, adding there were “other options,” such as turning himself in or returning the vehicle.
Defense attorney Al Kola said Ozuna panicked when he saw the child but “did the right thing” by leaving the vehicle where he knew friends would find it when they left for work in the morning.
In a statement Monday, Ozuna called the theft a “mistake” and begged for forgiveness from the child's mother.
“I regret it a lot because I have children and I wouldn't like the same thing to happen,” he said through a Spanish-language interpreter.
Guerin said the case was especially aggravating because of the emotional toll on the child's mother and because the toddler could have been seriously harmed while left to “fend for herself.”
“Any parent could attest, having a child taken from you for a minute is bad enough,” the judge said. “(Ozuna's) main concern was himself.”
DeLaMar said the child had to be treated at the scene with “hot packs” to boost her body temperature. She was then evaluated at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital and released later that day.
Police arrested Ozuna on Jan. 11 after receiving a tip he was staying in Mount Prospect. He pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen motor vehicle in May and had faced up to seven years in prison.
By law, Ozuna must serve at least three years before he is eligible for parole. Authorities said he likely will be deported to Mexico upon his release because he is not a legal resident of the United States.
Ozuna also was ordered to pay about $1,900 in restitution for damage to the vehicle and medical bills.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.