Laura Zamudio

Laura Zamudio

Laura Zamudio, one of the defendants involved in the torture and kidnapping of a woman in 2020, was sentenced to retained jurisdiction Wednesday.

District Judge Bruce Pickett sentenced Zamudio based on the recommendation of the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office and the fact that her involvement in the case is alleged to be less than that of her codefendants. Zamudio was convicted of accessory to first-degree kidnapping and accessory to aggravated battery.

Zamudio was arrested in June 2020 after she and three others, Jorge Balderas, Sasha Martinez and Austin Alverado, were alleged to have tied a woman to a chair in the basement of their home and tortured the victim, carving a letter into her face and setting a fire beneath her legs.

The victim said Zamudio knew of the kidnapping and was present during the torture, and punched her in the face. Zamudio entered an Alford plea for accessory to kidnapping and accessory to aggravated battery, meaning she does not admit that she committed a crime, but does admit a jury would likely find her guilty.

Defense Attorney Trent Grant said he did not dispute that there was a kidnapping, but suggested the victim exaggerated the extent of it, saying Zamudio told him the victim was free to move about the house during the time the victim was believed to have been tied to the chair and that she sent text messages to other friends.

Pickett asked Grant about a statements Zamudio made to the presentence investigator in which she blamed the victim for what happened and claimed she had carved her own face in order to frame her and the others. Martinez, the defendant accused of cutting the victim’s face, has pleaded guilty.

Grant said his client told him she wished she had reworded some of her statements.

Grant also cited a psychological evaluation of Zamudio that determined she was isolated and “easily dominated and manipulated” by others.

Grant said his client had been exposed to a toxic lifestyle and had learned to “cope with things the best way she could.”

Grant added that, unlike her codefendants, Zamudio had not been charged with any other crimes since the arrest. She also had no prior criminal history.

Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Adam Garvin expressed concern that Zamudio had told the presentence investigator she stands by her codefendants. He pointed out she claimed they were innocent when two of them, Martinez and Alverado, had pleaded guilty.

“It would seem that she’s trying to convince herself that what she says is true,” Garvin said.

Zamudio gave a statement saying she would seek treatment for her mental health and avoid associating with people who could be a negative influence.

Pickett said he was concerned that Zamudio had a warped view of events, given the discrepancy between her statements and those of her codefendants.

“Even though they themselves are not saying they’re innocent, you are saying they’re innocent,” Pickett said.

Pickett denied the defense’s request for probation, but agreed to a retained jurisdiction sentence. He told Zamudio she would need to seek mental health care if he was to release her on probation after the rider program, and that her probation period would be lengthy.

Pickett gave Zamudio an underlying sentence of one-to-five years in prison on each charge, to be served consecutively.

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