A man who helped mastermind a deadly carjacking and robbery ring was sentenced Tuesday to 22 years in prison.
Pima County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Lee sentenced Michael James Celaya after his guilty plea to second-degree murder, aggravated assault and four counts of robbery in three separate cases.
Celaya and two other defendants were accused of robbing and assaulting men whom they lured by having one of the defendants pose as a prostitute on Tucson’s south side.
That defendant, Jessica Michelle Miranda, acted as “bait” for the victims, according to court documents.
In April 2011, Celaya and the others attempted to steal victim Terrence Caldwell’s car. Caldwell fought back, and was stabbed in the heart.
“It was a fairly vicious set of assaults,” Deputy Pima County Attorney Lewis Brandes said at Tuesday’s sentencing. “He died literally in the gutter.”
Brandes asked the judge to sentence Celaya to the maximum term.
Celaya’s defense attorney, Bobbi Berry, argued for a lesser sentence.
“Were it not for Michael, this case might have gone unsolved,” Berry said, saying her client had cooperated with police. She also noted Celaya did not have the knife.
The three weren’t arrested for nearly 18 months after the killing.