A Lompoc man was sentenced Thursday to more than a decade in state prison for a 2017 kidnapping that ended in Nevada after a four-day manhunt.
Appearing before Judge John McGregor in Santa Maria Superior Court, Joseph Hetzel, 53, was sentenced to 11 years in state prison for kidnapping Virginia Paris, also of Lompoc, as she left her job at the Atterdag Inn in Solvang on Sept. 1, 2017. Paris was found safe at the Railroad Pass Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nevada, three days after her kidnapping. Hetzel was arrested in Las Vegas on Sept. 5, and extradited to Santa Barbara County in January 2018.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges during his January 2018 arraignment and was held on $2 million bail. Last month, as part of a settlement offer proposed by the defense, Hetzel pleaded no contest to a felony kidnapping charge and admitted to a prior violent felony strike stemming from a 2006 criminal case.
"The sentencing went as we anticipated [and] everything went as expected," said Deputy District Attorney Anne Nudson, who prosecuted the case. The remaining counts of stalking and kidnapping with intent to commit rape and/or sodomy were dismissed as part of the agreement.
Paris, who was identified only as Jane Doe during court proceedings, was present during the sentencing and submitted a written impact statement to the court, but declined to read it out loud. Nudson told Hetzel, his attorney, Adrian Galvan from the Santa Barbara County Public Defender's Office and the judge that "she wants you to know how strongly and passionately she feels."
Nudson declined to discuss the content of the statement outside the courtroom.
"She wants it to be private and I want to respect her choice," Nudson said.
During last month's preliminary hearing, Doe told the court the pair met as friends during a July 2017 stay at the White Oaks hotel in Vandenberg Village before starting a physical relationship. The relationship lasted through the month of August, with Doe maintaining that she never considered Hetzel her boyfriend.
Doe filed for a restraining order at Lompoc Superior Court the day before her kidnapping, citing several instances in which Hetzel pestered her with marriage proposals at work and at her room at the same hotel. He later forced her to marry him during her abduction in Las Vegas.
As part of the sentence, Hetzel was ordered to pay more than $1,700 in restitution to the California Victim's Compensation board, and $170 directly to Doe. McGregor also imposed a 10-year criminal restraining order against Hetzel, mandating he have no contact with the victim for the duration of the order.
He was remanded to Santa Barbara County sheriff's custody following the sentencing for transport to the California Department of Corrections' Reception Center.