Houston man learns fate for kidnapping and killing postal employee

HOUSTON, TX — A 32-year-old resident of Houston has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of kidnapping in connection with the death of a U.S. Postal Service (USPS) employee, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Don Gaines pleaded guilty April 26, admitting he choked the victim and drove her to Louisiana, ultimately shooting her in the head.

Today, U.S. District Judge Alfred H. Bennett granted the government’s request for an upward departure of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and ordered Gaines to serve a 540-month sentence.

The court called the crime one of the most gruesome he has had to deal with in his 11 years on the bench. He considered the manner in which the victim died and her last moments of life as well as the defendant’s need for self-preservation over the life of the mother of his children. In imposing the sentence, the court remarked that if the crime had been a mistake, an argument gone horribly wrong, Gaines had the option of calling it off and turning around. “Instead, you doubled down,” he said, noting he then walked her into the woods and shot her.

The defense tried to argue the facts did not warrant a sentence applicable to 1st degree murder. The government disagreed, contending Gaines deliberately decided the victim would die Sept. 11, 2017.

At the hearing, the court heard from Gaines’ former girlfriend who became emotional, describing how Gaines had also choked her in June 2017. He had threatened her after she denied his sexual advances and said he would kill her. The victim’s father also took the stand and described his wonderful and loving daughter and mother to her children.

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