CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE — A year has passed since the teenage victim in a March 22, 2013, kidnapping case was carjacked at gunpoint and forced to drive to Philadelphia, but the terror of that day is very much in the present.
“My nightmares are all about how Nava is just out to get me,” the victim wrote in a statement that was read in court Thursday. “I wonder if I am really safe because I still have flashbacks once a week and some weeks even more. I just know that I am scared.”
Floribert Nava, of Wildwood, listened with the aid of a Spanish-language interpreter but offered no apology to the victim.
“I leave it in God's hands,” Nava told the court as she was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The sentencing came slightly more than a year after Nava used a fake gun to carjack the then-17-year-old victim, identified in court only as SBJ. Nava, who pleaded guilty to the single first-degree charge of carjacking, had previously admitted in court that she used what the victim believed to be a real gun to get into the girl’s car in Wildwood and force her to drive.
The girl had recently given a baby up for adoption, and Nava believed she should have been given the child.
Prosecutors said she intended to drive with the teen from Wildwood to Philadelphia, where the baby had been placed with another family, and retrieve it.
But, First Assistant Prosecutor Rob Johnson said, the young victim took charge.
“SBJ actually does something. She gets the courage to crash her vehicle into a police car,” Johnson told Superior Court Judge Patricia Wild.
The girl crashed into a parked Delaware River Port Authority police car as it sat on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, then jumped from the vehicle asking for help.
Nava was arrested soon after.
“Since the incident, I have been suffering from depression. Depression has affected my school life; I had to miss months (of) school,” the girl wrote. “My happiness has been taken away ever since the incident. I now have to take medication because of how bad my nightmares are.”
Defense attorney H. Parker Smith said his client’s actions baffled him. Nava, 48, has a family, including five children, and no prior criminal record.
“This case baffles me to this day,” Smith said.
That lack of a criminal history, Johnson said, played a large part in the decision to resolve the case through a plea agreement.
In exchange for her guilty plea, Nava was sentenced to 12 years in prison. She must serve 85 percent of her sentence before she is eligible for parole, or 10 years, two months and 13 days. Nava receives credit for 370 days served in jail.
She also must undergo five years of parole supervision once she is released.
The young victim watched quietly as Nava, a Mexican citizen and illegal resident of the U.S., was sentenced and taken away.
While the sentencing ends the criminal case, the victim said she continues to live in fear.
“I always question myself, my safety, and that if I allow myself to be happy, is she just going to take that away from me again?” she wrote in her statement.
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