PRINCETON — A man charged with leading police on a two-day hunt pleaded not guilty in a Friday arraignment.
Carlos D. Estades, 48, a Dominican-born Florida resident, is accused of absconding from a routine traffic stop on Tuesday, Nov. 5, after state police pulled him over for following too close.
Estades is alleged to have jumped out of the front seat of the police car where he was being issued a warning, jumping into his rental car, and driving off while the officer’s arm was in the vehicle.
He was reportedly seen on foot in Princeton the next morning, and after a multiagency search, was found underneath a car at Freedom House on Elm Place in Princeton that Wednesday evening.
Estades, charged with the Class 4 felony of aggravated assault and misdemeanor counts of fleeing and eluding and resisting arrest, faces a sentence of up to 1-3 years in prison for the felony and up to 364 days in the county jail for the misdemeanor charges. Any custodial sentences would be served concurrently.
Private attorney Matthew Mueller appeared on behalf of Estades at the arraignment, taking over for public defender Michael Henneberry, who was assigned to represent Estades at his bond hearing.
Mueller motioned Judge Marc Bernabei for a bond reduction, asking that the $200,000 bond, 10 percent of which Estades would have to post to be released, be reduced, but the motion was denied.
Mueller said Estades disclosed to him a history of schizophrenia and hypothesized that his client may have run from the traffic stop due to his medical condition.
“I assume State Police was doing drug interdiction and when he was pulled over and his behavior may have been caused by panic,” Mueller said.
He told the judge Estades would be able to post $5,000 or maybe $7,500 to be released, but not the current amount of $20,000 he would need to get out of the Bureau County Jail.
State’s Attorney Geno Caffarini argued that the bond needs to be high enough to ensure the defendant shows up to court.
“The defendant took off from a routine traffic stop,” Caffarini said. “He led the police on a two-day manhunt, and he didn’t turn himself in, he was caught. If he’s going to flee on a simple stop, the chance that he’ll show up for court is nil. He’s also from Florida and has no ties to the area, and he’s a flight risk, so the bond is appropriate.”
Mueller argued that Estades’ lack of any prior felony convictions and his status as a legal resident with a green card would ensure his cooperation, but to no avail.
“I accept the defense explanation (of the medical condition) for today’s hearing,” Bernabei said. “But it doesn’t excuse the reason for bond. The risk of flight is so overwhelming that bail, while unusually high for a Class 4 felony, is appropriate.”
A trial date is set for Feb. 24.