An illegal alien, who was detained by authorities multiple times but released on the stipulation that he remove himself from the United States, was convicted by a Texas jury of killing college student Jared Vargas.
Ernesto Esquivel Garcia, who briefly worked with Vargas, 20, killed the college student before setting fire to his own apartment.
His lawyer had claimed the illegal immigrant’s actions were in self-defense.
The jury took nearly three hours to deliberate before convicting the man of murder, reported My San Antonio. Garcia faces up to life in prison; a sentencing date wasn’t immediately clear.
Garcia, who was 20 when he was arrested last year, was in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) twice.
Undocumented immigrant found guilty in killing of San Antonio college student https://t.co/IB3ielM0Wq
— mySA (@mySA) August 13, 2019
Garcia was arrested in March 2017 after he admitted to police officers that he purposefully used his truck to ram into cars belonging to a former girlfriend and one of her family members, according to dash and bodycam footage obtained by KSAT.
Garcia also broke his ex-girlfriend’s cell phone and brawled with two men from her family after he crashed into the vehicles, according to witnesses. Relatives said Garcia was a “bad guy” with dubious connections. “I know he does drugs. I know he has a lot to do with selling drugs,” one relative of the ex-girlfriend said of the Mexican native.
Officers later found a marijuana pipe on Garcia’s person and six empty beer bottles in his truck, in addition to one open bottle, and he was arrested for driving while intoxicated and for criminal mischief.
Garcia was held until ICE picked him up in April 2017, according to the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office. An ICE spokeswoman told KSAT that ICE turned Garcia back over to Bexar County after learning he had an active arrest warrant. The agency said it told Garcia “to leave the United States by July 20, 2018, as imposed by the immigration judge’s voluntary departure order.”
A San Antonio immigration attorney said self-deportation orders enables illegal immigrants to take care of business before they leave the country, if they, in fact, leave.
Garcia signed a plea deal in January 2018 that saw the criminal mischief charge dismissed and the DWI charge reduced to obstruction of a highway by intoxication.
Vargas’ mother Lori Vargas said in a statement that she wanted to thank everyone involved with the investigation, including San Antonio police detectives and prosecutors.
“We would also like to thank Congressman Chip Roy for his continued support and advocacy for not only Jared, but for all those affected negatively by illegal immigration. Jared’s death was senseless, brutal and unnecessary at the hands of his murderer Ernesto Esquivel Garcia. Jared’s death was also preventable,” Vargas said.
My constituents and colleagues have heard me tell the story of Jared Vargas, a young man from my district with so much going for him whose life was needlessly taken at the hands of an illegal immigrant. pic.twitter.com/Yr6UWKlyZS
— Rep. Chip Roy (@RepChipRoy) January 24, 2019
“His murderer, an illegal alien had been in ICE and Bexar County custody repeatedly, ending with an Immigration Judge granting a voluntary departure judgment. Just 2 weeks later, Ernesto murdered Jared. Because of this heinous act, I am permanently separated from my son and his siblings are permanently separated from their brother.”
She added, “Jared was a full-time college student, sometimes working two jobs to support himself independently. His infectious spirit and funny ‘Jaredisims’ brought laughter to those around him no matter what the circumstance was. I find myself thinking about Jared’s adventures and what kind of life he would have had; how many more people he would have met; lives positively touched/ influenced by him. He was full of hopes, dreams and had unlimited determination to achieve all he wanted in life.”