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Once-deported illegal immigrant is charged with kidnapping
Man accused of abducting girlfriend, holding her 22 hours

June 23, 2006

Knoxville police on Thursday charged an illegal immigrant already deported once before with kidnapping after he allegedly held his bound girlfriend for 22 hours, authorities said.
Diego Martinez, 22, was being held in jail in lieu of $50,000 bond, according to Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk. He was arrested at 4:35 p.m. in the parking lot of the Kmart store on Kingston Pike in West Knoxville.

Martinez is accused of abducting his girlfriend, 30-year-od Rachel Espinoza, from her Emerald Avenue residence, DeBusk said. Espinoza was able to escape about noon Thursday, he said.

The episode began about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday when Espinoza called her roommate because she was arguing with Martinez. When the roommate got home, Espinoza was gone and items from the trunk of Martinez's 1999 Honda Accord littered the front yard, DeBusk said.

DeBusk said Martinez had tied Espinoza's hands and feet and put her into the Honda trunk before driving to Jefferson County. The couple spent Wednesday night in the car, with Espinoza's hands still bound.

Martinez tried to retrieve money wired by his mother, but the dispatch was in Espinoza's name. Espinoza convinced Martinez to take her home to get her identification to claim the cash.

Martinez agreed but first made a stop at a church to elicit a promise from Espinoza to not alert police. Once at Emerald Avenue, Espinoza's roommate distracted Martinez long enough for Espinoza to call 911, DeBusk said.

By the time police arrived, Martinez had fled. His car _was found abandoned on Woodland Avenue near Sunrise Street.

Don Jacobs may be reached at 865-342-6345.