I’ve blogged about Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff David March in the past (here, here, & here) and now it appears there is some good news to report on his killer finally being extradited to the US:
In a case that became a symbol of how illegal immigrant fugitives escape U.S. justice, the man accused of murdering sheriff’s Deputy David March in 2002 has been arrested in Mexico and is facing extradition, authorities said Thursday.
Armando Garcia was captured Thursday in Jalisco, and officials with the attorney general’s office in Mexico City said they will begin extradition proceedings expected to take about two months.
“It’s a great day,” said March’s widow, Theresa. “I feel so relieved that no one was hurt. No one has to live another nightmare at the hands of Armando Garcia.”
March, a 33-year-old deputy from Saugus, was gunned down April 29, 2002, as he approached a suspect’s car in Irwindale. Garcia, an undocumented worker who had previously been deported four times, was the prime suspect.
U.S. officials believed Garcia had fled to Mexico and sought help from authorities there. But the Mexican government has repeatedly refused to extradite to the United States as many as 3,000 fugitives including up to 1,000 accused of crimes in California who could face the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole.
The March case sparked a national outcry as lawmakers, prosecutors and law enforcement called for changes in the system that would allow undocumented immigrants who commit crimes and flee to be brought to justice.
I am totally disgusted that this man:
Will be kept alive for the rest of his life. What a waste. He should die a most horrible death but instead he will live and get fatter on our tax dollars.
District Attorney Steve Cooley said he will seek a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Mexican national Jorge Arroyo Garcia, 29, who also uses the name Armando sidestepping a controversial treaty that has meant Mexican authorities have refused to extradite fugitives facing the death penalty in the U.S.”I’ll tell you, it’s conflicting,” Cooley said. “If Armando Garcia was arrested in the United States of America, I would without hesitation, without the blink of an eye urge the death penalty for him and commit all the resources of this office to his execution.”
While lawmakers, March’s family and Sheriff Lee Baca hailed the news of Garcia’s arrest and impending extradition, Baca also noted the trade-off that had to be made.
“It’s totally unfair,” Baca said. “The fact that the Mexican government interferes in any way with crimes that occur in the U.S. is wrong. We’re not satisfied. But the alternative is that the suspect runs free and that’s unacceptable.”
Late last year, the Mexican Supreme Court lifted a ban on extraditing suspects who might face life imprisonment in the United States a decision officials said could affect more than 700 suspects wanted for crimes in California.
With the help of federal marshals and Mexican authorities, Cooley said, he now plans to focus on locating and apprehending about 200 other fugitives in Mexico, some of whom are featured on his Web site www.escapingjustice.com.
More details about the arrest were released yesterday:
Officials said officers from Mexico’s Agencia Federal de Investigationes acting on information provided by the Los Angeles Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Garcia just after noon Thursday as he left his uncle’s house in Tonala, a small town just outside Guadalajara.
“He was totally taken by surprise,” said U.S. Marshal’s Service Chief Inspector John Clark, who said a seven-member surveillance team had spent thousands of hours over four years tracking Garcia.
Clark said investigators went to 30 addresses in five Mexican states as they followed leads from sleepy fishing villages on the Pacific Coast to mountainous jungle strongholds controlled by drug lords and, finally, to a suburban neighborhood.
After he was taken to a local police station, Garcia allegedly threatened the officers, saying his “associates were going to come and break him out,” Clark said.
Mexican agents boosted security while a plane and a special operations team from Mexico City was dispatched to take Garcia to a federal prison while he awaits extradition.
“He’s in a very secure facility now,” Clark said. “I don’t think it’s a threat anymore.”
Garcia, a convicted drug dealer, was working as a dealer or for a methamphetamine distribution organization at the time of March’s death on April 29, 2002, Cooley said.
Garcia is accused of shooting March several times at close range with a semi-automatic handgun during a traffic stop in Irwindale.
Garcia fled to Mexico within hours of the shooting and had reportedly threatened to kill any officer who tried to apprehend him.
David’s father is correct that even though Garcia will not be executed, who really is in Socialist State of Kalifornia?
March’s father, Santa Clarita resident John March, said he would be satisfied with a life sentence for Garcia.
“As far as I’m concerned, what is the death penalty in California?” March asked. “I mean, he would be in prison for the next 25 years with appeals, with this and that and everything else, and probably die in jail anyway.
“To me, I’m perfectly satisfied that this guy will be off the streets and won’t be able to hurt anyone else.”
Some, however, said it’s unfair that Mexican officials can affect the punishment of those who commit crimes in the United States.
“I think it’s silly a guy kills a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil and (is) not subject to the laws of the United States,” said Michael Rushford, director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, a pro-death penalty group.
“I doubt we would intervene if there was strong evidence that a U.S. citizen killed a Mexican officer on Mexican soil but the strength of this (treaty) may be enough to persuade the district attorney to not go with the death penalty.”[…]For March’s widow, Santa Clarita resident Theresa March, the capture culminates four years of work to bring her husband’s alleged killer to justice.
“I have seen his face every day of my life in my imagination,” she said. “This guy’s been a monster in our lives. After this, it’s up to the court systems and the ultimate judgment of God.”