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Man headed to prison for attempted carjacking
Billy Joe Ensminger
Billy Joe Ensminger

A Modesto man is headed to prison for a 2018 botched carjacking in Turlock, the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office announced.

Billy Joe Ensminger, 37, was sentenced on July 31, to 16 years in prison by Stanislaus Superior Court Judge Scott Steffen. In December of 2018, a Stanislaus County jury convicted Ensminger of attempted carjacking while using a firearm. A prior residential burglary conviction and prison term for auto theft were found true in a separate court trial held earlier this year.

Ensminger’s conviction stemmed from an incident that began around 1:30 a.m. Aug. 30, 2018 at the Travelodge at 201 W. Glenwood Ave.

Ensminger approached a man and a woman sitting in a car in the parking lot and slid into the backseat of the vehicle. He put the muzzle of his handgun against the back of the man’s head and told the pair to get out of the vehicle, but to leave the keys, according to the district attorney’s office.

The pair exited the vehicle while Ensminger moved into the driver’s seat, all while continuing to point his gun at the man.

Once in the vehicle, Ensminger realized the keys were not in the car. He got out of the vehicle and chased after the man and women, who were running into the motel lobby. The woman called police who arrived at the scene within minutes of the call and spotted Ensminger in the area.

Ensminger ran to a ground floor motel room. In the process he dropped a handgun on the ground.

After a few minutes Ensminger agreed to come out of the room and was taken into custody without further incident.

A security camera captured the entire incident on video.

Ensminger has seven prior felony convictions since 2000 for such crimes as auto theft, residential burglary and possession of drugs in prison which occurred in Tuolumne, Lassen and Stanislaus counties.

Attempted carjacking is considered a violent offense under California law requiring that he serve at least 85 percent of that time in actual custody. It is also a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes Law” that can be used to increase the punishment for any felony convictions that Ensminger may receive in the future.