WASHINGTON COUNTY, OR (KPTV) - Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office released statements Tuesday regarding the release of a manslaughter suspect from the Washington County Jail in August.
Alejandro Maldonado-Hernandez was arrested in July. Deputies said he was street racing in Aloha when he crashed into another car and killed a passenger.
Patrick Ator was seriously hurt in that crash. His wife Janace died.
“When it was all over, I woke up and looked over at my wife. She wasn’t talking. I felt her pulse and there was no pulse. In my head I said, ‘Lord, why don’t you take me too?’” he said.
Ator and his wife were married for 57 years.
“Most people say it was one of the best marriages they’ve ever seen,” said daughter Deborah Goldstein.
Ator said, “We were totally happy.”
He and his daughter spoke with FOX 12 four months after losing his wife.
“She was a great mother, an incredible mother and a lot of fun to be with,” Goldstein said.
Maldonado-Hernandez was arrested on charges of second-degree manslaughter, third-degree assault and reckless driving.
Deputies said he posted bail Aug. 8. Investigators subsequently learned Maldonado-Hernandez fled to Mexico. Three people accused of helping him were arrested on charges of hindering prosecution.
On Tuesday, ICE issued a press release about the case, saying they had lodged an immigration detainer regarding Maldonado-Hernandez on July 16.
“On August 8, the jail failed to honor the detainer and released Maldonado-Hernandez back into the community he had previously victimized,” according to ICE.
ICE states their detainers ask law enforcement to notify agents in advance of a suspect being released, so ICE can take that person into custody. ICE also states they have the authority to lodge immigration detainers under federal law.
“Yet, across the United States, several jurisdictions refuse to honor detainers and instead choose to willingly release criminal offenders back into their local communities where they are free to offend,” according to ICE.
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office issued a reply Tuesday, saying, “Had ICE agents provided a valid warrant or order signed by a federal judge during that time, Mr. Maldonado-Hernandez would have remained in custody.”
The statement from Sheriff Pat Garrett said ICE detainers are, “simply put,” not lawful or enforceable in the state of Oregon, citing the ruling of a 2014 Clackamas County case.
“The continuing refusal of ICE agents to provide necessary legal justification for holding people they believe are a danger to our community is the real problem, not the sheriff's office insistence on following state law,” according to a Washington County Sheriff's Office statement.
Ator and Goldstein say the law and the politics involved are beyond them and they’re still just trying to heal.
“I worry that they will get away with too little, but at the same time, that’s beyond me. My wife and I lost our togetherness and that’s really what I’m concentrating on. I don’t worry about the people that caused it,” Ator said.
Detectives continue actively working to locate Maldonado-Hernandez.
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