PORTLAND, Maine — A Gorham man who was forced into his own car’s trunk at gunpoint last April and driven eight hours to Delaware before he was released told a federal judge Monday morning he was sure his kidnapper was going to kill him.
The kidnapper, Travis Landry, 30, of Surry, was sentenced Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $5,541 in restitution for his role in the incident.
Landry — who had a long, red beard and wore a short-sleeved tan-gray Strafford County, N.H., Department of Corrections jail-issued outfit to the federal courthouse in Portland — nodded to family members sitting in the courtroom while a U.S. marshal led him away.
“I cannot overstate the seriousness of this crime,” Torresen told Landry as she announced his sentence. “I can only imagine the fear that that man lived through, all the while thinking you were going to kill him. … It was extended, it was cruel and it was inhuman.”
The victim, Alex Filatov, 20, addressed the court Monday. He agreed to meet Landry late last April in Portland thinking Landry was a prospective buyer for his 2004 BMW sedan. But Landry instead forced Filatov into the trunk at gunpoint and drove him to Delaware before pulling over, popping the trunk and telling the victim to run.
“I thought that was the last day I was going to be living,” Filatov, a native Russian, told the court. “I thought I was going to die that day.”
Filatov, who was 19 at the time, said on a number of occasions when he’d feel the vehicle stop, he was convinced Landry had found a secluded location to dump his body. Filatov, who is 5 feet 11 inches tall, spent the eight-hour ride curled in the fetal position in a trunk that was approximately 4 feet by 3 feet.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Chapman, speaking for the prosecution, requested a sentence of 16 years in prison for Landry, who pleaded guilty in August to one count each of kidnapping and using a firearm in a violent crime.
Chapman acknowledged Landry’s long history of mental illness, abandonment by his birth mother at a young age and traumatic experiences while serving with the U.S. Army overseas. But Chapman cited a letter Landry wrote to his sister after his arrest — in which he told her, “I did what I did, and honestly, I would do it again” — and told the judge he “poses significant risk” to the public.
Landry reportedly stole the car to drive to Texas to see his wife, with whom he’d become estranged.
“Whatever the reasons, those characteristics have conspired to make Travis Landry capable of treatment of another human being that most people could not bring themselves to do,” Chapman said.
Public defender David Beneman, representing Landry, said his client didn’t do a number of things that would have legally exacerbated the crime, such as demand a ransom or leave the victim with permanent or life-threatening injuries.
Despite Landry’s history in the military and use of psychotic drugs such as methamphetamines and the hallucinogen known as “bath salts,” Beneman noted that “there was no gratuitous violence” in the kidnapping.
The attorney even noted that his client had considered releasing the victim in Massachusetts, but worried that Filatov would be unsafe there in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing because of his Russian accent. The alleged bombers in that attack were from Chechnya.
Beneman asked Torreson for a sentence of 12 years in prison.
“It’s a period of time that reflects the gravity of the offense … [but] there’s nothing we’ve seen in Travis that tells us he’s incapable of change,” the attorney said.
Landry told the court he hit a low point at the time of the crime but is no longer abusing drugs and is up-to-date on the medications he needs to control his mental illnesses. At the time of the kidnapping, he had recently been discharged from the Army, his marriage was on the rocks and he had limited contact with a daughter from a previous marriage, he told Torresen.
“In early April, after losing my career, my wife, my daughter and everything else that was important to me, my alcohol and drug use ran to an all-time high,” he said. “I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused others, and I will be burdened by this misconduct for the rest of my life.”
Torresen noted that Landry “absolutely thrived in the Army” and is “worth saving.”
“I have to decide whether the monster you’re capable of becoming can be contained with regular medication and counseling,” she said before announcing her compromise sentence.