Count yourself lucky!
An Ecuadoran court has sentenced Luis Guaman to 25 years in prison, the maximum penalty under that country’s criminal code, for the beating deaths of a young mother and her 2-year-old son last year in Brockton.
The sentence appeared online late Monday, one week after three judges in the city of Cuenca declared Guaman guilty of murdering housemate Maria Avelina Palaguachi, 25, and her son, Brian, in February 2011 and dumping their bodies in a trash bin behind their house. Guaman will get credit for several months served in jail and must pay a fine of $10,000 to the victims’ family, according to the decision handed down by the Third Criminal Court of Azuay in Cuenca.
Presiding Judge Azucena Andrade said Tuesday she expects Guaman to serve the majority of his sentence, despite concerns that he could get time off for good behavior.
“These are two murders, that’s why we gave him the maximum,’’ she said in a telephone interview, citing the seriousness of the crimes. “We want him to serve the 25 years.’’
The sentence followed a controversial two-day trial in Ecuador held over the objections of Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, who demanded that Ecuador extradite Guaman to Massachusetts based on the existing extradition treaty between the two nations, or face economic sanctions.
Ecuador refused, saying its constitution bars extradition of its own citizens. Instead, Ecuadoran officials implored Cruz to help them prosecute Guaman in Ecuador, though he refused.
If convicted in Massachusetts, Guaman would have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole. In Ecuador, he faced 16 to 25 years in prison.
I don’t know what the “proper” punishment is for beating two people to death, one a toddler, and I don’t even pretend to know the details of the extradition treaty between the US and Ecuador.
But there is one thing I do want to know—although it took 18 paragraphs and a jump page to get there:
Guaman, who lived in the United States illegally for almost two decades…
Really, was that so hard? This reporter, Maria Sacchetti, is the Gob’s go-to gal on immigration sob stories. When an illegal—sorry, undocumented—alien feels sad or has a bad day, you’ll read about it under her byline, immigration status front and center. But when an illegal—sorry, criminal—alien is caught driving drunk without a license, or beating beating his significant other, or committing armed robbery, or forging documents, or taking state benefits to which they are not entitled, you’ll be hard pressed to find any mention of their status. You’ll be hard pressed to find any mention of the story at all in the Glob, in fact. Not their sort of thing.
We hear more and more stories of illegal aliens living here unmolested for decades. Some are relatively harmless, like the president’s Auntie Zeituni (though she should not have qualified for the subsidized housing she enjoyed); some are slightly less harmless, like the president’s Uncle Omar (stopped for a DUI); and some are definitely harmful, like Luis Guaman (no relation to the president—that we know of).
Oh yes, in case you thought Guaman lived a life of quiet desperation:
Meanwhile, more details emerged about Guaman’s criminal history in New York.William Barbera, a captain in the sheriff’s department in Rockland County, New York, said Guaman lived at several addresses in Spring Valley, about 26 miles north of New York City, between 2006 and 2008.
Guaman went by several aliases, including Luis Gilbert Caguana, Barbera said.
In January 2008, according to The Journal News newspaper, Guaman, then of Brockton, was charged with two counts of second-degree attempted kidnapping and one count of second-degree assault, both felonies, after he allegedly attempted to abduct his estranged wife, a 30-year-old Spring Valley woman.
The woman said she arranged to meet Jose Zumba Pichizaca, also of Brockton, at a health center, and that he was to deliver money from Guaman.
The woman said Pichizaca told her they would drive to a check-cashing store, but when she got in the car, Guaman was hiding under a blanket in the back seat and Pichizaca sped off against her will.
The women said she tried to escape when the car stopped at a gas station in Spring Valley, but Guaman grabbed her and held her down in the car. As she pulled away, her shirt came off and she was scratched on her neck and chest.
A police officer from the Rockland County Sheriff’s Department was in an unmarked car nearby and witnessed the event. Both Guaman and Pichizaca were arrested.
Barbera said Guaman is wanted on four felony warrants in Rockland, two issued by his office and two issued by the Spring Valley police.
Spring Valley Detective Dave Humeston said Guaman’s aliases have made it difficult to investigate his crimes. He told The Journal News that authorities from Massachusetts would be in Spring Valley on Friday to further investigate the case.
Cruz said this week that Guaman was also wanted on a warrant charging him with assault and battery on a former girlfriend in Milford in 2007.
Guaman, under the alias Antonio Castro, was also arrested by Brockton police last year after allegedly pulling a knife during a fight behind 62 North Warren Ave. Bail was set at $500 in that case and he was due to return to court on March 11.
And somehow, no one saw fit to look into his eligibility to be in this country? He did eventually leave, but at his leisure, and on a stolen or fraudulent passport.
To borrow a cliche, we are a nation of immigrants—and we are the better for it. But a nation of illegal immigrants? I’m not so sure the same applies. I’m quite sure it doesn’t.