A 44-year-old Santa Monica resident has been sentenced to 33 years in prison for a bizarre carjacking incident where the victim was forced into the trunk of his car and then abandoned in the middle of nowhere. Jason Levi Garza pleaded no contest on March 21 to carjacking and admitted using a handgun as a deadly and dangerous weapon, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney Maria Ghobadi.

The carjacking took place at the UCLA campus on Oct. 3, 2016, when Garza pointed a gun at a man and ordered him to drive to a second location. Once they stopped, Garza then forced the victim into the car’s trunk and drove around for more than six hours before releasing the hostage in Castaic, Ghobadi said.

The area was so remote, the victim had to walk for ninety minutes before reaching a freeway call box to get help. Police arrested Garza ten days later.

Garza already had a conviction for second-degree robbery in 2011 and was facing a life sentence if convicted of the initial charges, which included kidnapping, criminal threats and assault with a firearm.

The University of California Police Department investigated the case.


Kate Cagle

Senior reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press