YAKIMA, Wash. — A 45-year-old Richland man accused of holding a Yakima woman in the trunk of a car was sentenced to six years in prison Friday in Yakima County Superior Court.
Rodney John Wheeler pleaded guilty to first-degree kidnapping last month, a move that abruptly ended his trial after a week of pretrial proceedings and jury selection.
Wheeler was accused of taking his ex-girlfriend’s daughter from her home on Oct. 25, 2012, binding her hands and feet and stuffing a rag in her mouth. He placed her in the trunk of a car that he then parked near the Yakima Air Terminal. Police found the woman in the trunk two hours later.
Investigators said that after Wheeler put the woman in the trunk, he used her cellphone to text her mother, who lives in Benton City. Her mother then called police, who found Wheeler behind the daughter’s home with her cellphone. Wheeler then led police to the car, which was in a nearby parking lot.
Wheeler, who had no criminal history, told police he was just tying to get his ex-girlfriend to listen to him.
His defense attorney, Paul Kelley, said Wheeler suddenly entered a guilty plea after he realized that people involved in the case were hurt by his actions. He decided he didn’t want to put them through any more difficulty, Kelley said.