ANDERSON — A former Indianapolis man was sentenced to 70 years in prison Monday for the repeated sexual abuse of two sisters over several years.
A Madison County jury last month found 42-year-old Jose G. Echartea-De La Suente guilty of two counts of Class A felony child molesting, and three counts of Class C felony child molesting, although Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Hopper said many more charges could have been added.
Echartea-De La Suente fled to Florida from Madison County after a warrant for his arrest was issued in December 2012.
He was arrested in March 2015 for a traffic violation, giving a false identity, and possessing a counterfeit driver's license. He was also held as an out-of-state fugitive, according to authorities in Lee County, Florida.
He was released from the Lee County Jail in on April 15, 2016, and returned to Madison County less than a week later.
"He was on the run and eventually picked up in Florida," Hopper said. "Being from 2012, we are pleased to have this one resolved."
He said the girls lived in fear night after night, and then there were years of uncertainty while Echartea-De La Suente was in Florida when the girls didn't know if he would stand trial.
Echartea-De La Suente's attorney, Jill Gonzalez, argued for a lessor sentence in part because her client doesn't speak English, or understand the American criminal justice system. She also argued he likely will be deported before serving his full sentence, an apparent reference to President Donald Trump's vow to deport undocumented immigrants, especially those who've been convicted of serious crimes.
Madison Circuit Court Division 4 Judge David A. Happe did not comment on that prospect, but he said Echartea-De La Suente has never expressed any remorse or taken responsibility for his actions.
Anderson detectives who investigated the case said in court statements the sexual abuse began in 2005 and continued through October 2012.
That's when one of the children was taken by her mother to Community Hospital for a sexual assault exam on suspicion of sexual misconduct by Echartea-De La Suente.
The girl was 11 or 12 years old at the time of the incidents. It was alleged that Echartea-De La Suente fondled the girl and performed a sexual act on her while another relative was sleeping in the room. The children's mother was told about the incident and moved the girls to another house to avoid contact with him.
In other court news, the scheduled sentencing Monday in Happe's court of two brothers charged with kidnapping an Anderson woman in 2015 has been postponed until June 5.
Brycin Brooks, 28, and Andrius Brooks, 23, both of Anderson, were facing trial together in Madison Circuit Court Division 4 on charges of kidnapping, a Level 2 felony; burglary, a Level 2 felony; criminal confinement, a Level 2 felony, and attempted armed robbery, a Level 3 felony.
Just as their second trial was set to begin last month, they pleaded guilty to kidnapping and other charges were dropped.
Their first jury trial in January ended in a mistrial after the jurors were deadlocked on all charges.