An insane car crash in Westlake last Thursday was overshadowed by two other big L.A. crime stories that day: the guy who shot up a Hollywood apartment before setting it on fire, and the ICE-officer shooting in Long Beach.
But the crimes of alleged kidnapper Jeffrey Minifie, 39, whose passenger died in the heat of an LAPD pursuit …
… will not go unpunished. The L.A. County District Attorney's Office has charged Minifie with kidnapping and murdering his 36-year-old girlfriend, Lilian Janeth Pleitez — a mother of two daughters, 7 and 13, and a son, 15.
The D.A. has concluded that Minifie forced Pleitez into his SUV, then led his victim to her grave by driving into oncoming traffic. From the original investigation, via City News Service:
Shortly after 8 a.m. Thursday, someone called 911 to report that a man had grabbed a woman and forced her into a GMC Yukon, [LAPD Commander Andy Smith] said. Officers went to the area, spotted a vehicle matching the description and saw that a woman was inside waving her arms to get their attention, Smith said.
When cops began chasing the SUV eastbound down Sixth Street, Minifie reportedly made a quick U-turn into oncoming traffic — and traveled west for about a mile before slamming head-on into a Volvo. The crash killed his girlfriend and injured the other driver.
Prosecutors are actually talking death penalty for Minifie's unusual case. Fresh from the D.A.'s office:
Jeffrey Minifie, (dob 10-29-72), was charged in case BA394178 with one count each of special circumstance murder, kidnapping and evading an officer causing injury, said Deputy District Attorney Efrain Aceves with the Family Violence Division. He is being held without bail.
… The special circumstance of murder during a kidnapping makes this a potential death penalty case. Prosecutors will decide later whether to seek the death penalty.
Minifie's arraignment will be announced later. He was not in court today due to medical issues.
Oftentimes when an LAPD pursuit leads to a deadly crash, the public begins to question police tactics. L.A. Times commenter Tom Allen wrote: “There you go: Chase him until he smashes the vehicle and kills the person they are trying to save.” The department meanwhile has scarcely commented — nothing about the dramatic kidnap/murder is posted to the LAPD blog, and their media-relations officers hadn't received any information on the crash late last Thursday night, when we called.
Then again, as we've noted before, it happened to be the scariest day for L.A. crime in recent memory.