An Omaha gang member narrowly avoided a life term when a jury convicted him of a lesser charge in the September 2016 group beating and torture of an Omaha man.
Fabian Inda wasn’t as fortunate this time.
On Friday, jurors convicted Inda, 30, of being a felon in possession of a weapon in connection with a gun found at his mother’s South Omaha house.
Ironically, that simple gun conviction — obtained when officers were checking on Inda as part of his post-prison supervised release — will net Inda much more time than the kidnapping and torture case did.
As a habitual criminal, Inda faces 10 to 60 years in prison when he is sentenced in May. And the habitual criminal designation means that he will have to serve any sentence without the cut-each-sentence-in-half good time credit most prisoners receive. Douglas County District Judge Horacio Wheelock will impose the sentence.
At Inda’s 2017 sentencing, Wheelock had lamented that he couldn’t give Inda more time for the kidnapping and near-fatal torture of a drug dealer. Inda and others reportedly targeted the drug dealer on their suspicion that he had been yapping too much about his connection to the Sinaloa cartel of Mexico.
Witnesses testified that Inda and others had stabbed Alberto Delgado-Ceballos, plunged their fingers into his wounds, smacked him with a wood plank and held him in a garage for hours, pouring water on him to keep him awake.
They then stripped him, beat him some more, drove him to southwest Iowa and dumped him in a field near Pacific Junction. Charged with a kidnapping count that would have resulted in an automatic life term, a jury instead found Inda guilty of a lesser false imprisonment charge. Maximum sentence: three years in prison.
“This type of action is so heinous that, quite frankly, it deserves a much more significant sentence,” Wheelock told Inda at the time. “And you know that.”
In August 2018, four months after getting out of prison, Inda was on supervised release and subject to routine searches when several gang unit officers arrived at the home of his mother, Dora Arvi. Officers searched the basement and found a bong, a large amount of cash and a bag of marijuana in a basement dresser drawer.
Then, in a crawl space, officers found almost 14 pounds of marijuana and five “long guns.”
Inda’s mother told officers that Inda’s 19-year-old brother lived in the basement. According to police, the brother told officers that the marijuana in the dresser was his, but that the marijuana and guns in the crawl space belonged to Inda.
Detectives continued their search and found two guns tucked under the mattress in the mother’s room. Inda told police that he slept on a couch just outside his mother’s room.
Rather than trying Inda for possessing seven guns and 14 pounds of marijuana, prosecutors Nissa Jones and Tressa Alioth focused their case on the two guns in his mother’s room. Under state law, it is a serious felony for a felon like Inda (who has served two prison terms) to possess a gun.
DNA tests on prints taken from one gun placed the odds of those prints being from anyone other than Inda at 2.6 million to 1. Another formula used by DNA experts put the odds even higher, at 18.6 billion to 1.
Jones and Alioth noted that a box of ammunition had bullets for both that gun and the handgun next to it. Logically, the prosecutors told jurors, both guns belonged to Inda because they were hidden together. In turn, Jones and Alioth urged jurors to convict Inda of two counts of gun possession. They also noted that DNA tests ruled out Inda’s mother as the source of the DNA.
But Inda’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Matt Miller, questioned whether Inda’s DNA could have been transferred to one of the guns by an Omaha police detective who didn’t change rubber gloves after rifling through Inda’s clothes. Even if it wasn’t transferred, Miller argued, all prosecutors could show was that Inda touched the gun, not that he possessed it.
In the end, jurors convicted Inda of possessing the gun that had his DNA on it. The 30-year-old showed no reaction as deputies led him back to jail to await his fate.