A beautiful 21-year-old coed was killed in street racing crash in January 2016. The prime suspect is an undocumented immigrant who is thought to have fled the country. Now, Sarah Root’s death is being used as part of a political platform by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. The suspect in the killing is Honduran national Eswin Mejia, 19.
During his acceptance speech at the GOP convention, Trump said, “The number of new illegal immigrant families who have crossed the border so far this year already exceeds the entire total from 2015. They are being released by the tens of thousands into our communities with no regard for the impact on public safety or resources.
One such border-crosser was released and made his way to Nebraska. There, he ended the life of an innocent young girl named Sarah Root. She was 21 years old and was killed the day after graduating from college with a 4.0 Grade Point Average. Her killer was then released a second time, and he is now a fugitive from the law.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Eswin Mejia’s Blood Alcohol Level Was 4 Times Over the Legal Limit, According to Cops
WOWT in Nebraska reported in January 2016 that police believe that Mejia had been involved in an illegal street race at the time of Root’s death. The station adds that authorities said Mejia’s blood alcohol level was four times over the legal limit. His driver’s license had also been suspended.
2. In a Congressional Testimony, Root’s Mother Said Mejia’s Bond Was Less Than the Cost of Her Daughter’s Funeral
Donald Trump spoke about Root’s parents in his speech at the GOP convention saying, “I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family. But to this Administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders.”
KMTV reports that Root’s family were not contacted when Mejia was released from jail. Root’s mother, Michelle, told the station:
If it wasn’t for my ex-husband checking every day with the investigators, we wouldn’t have known [Mejia] was released. This is such a big nightmare. We will not stop until we get justice for my baby girl. She deserves that.
While her father, Scott, said, “We would like call attention however to the fact that we laid her to rest yesterday, and the cost of a bond cost less than a funeral.” A Go Fund Me page that was set up by Root’s friends raised $6,705 to help her family pay for a funeral.
In a congressional testimony in April 2016, Root’s mother said:
Eswin spent four days in jail and is believed to have fled the country. He posted $5,000 bond, which was less than the cost it was to bury my daughter Sarah.
Because of the lack of controls, the police, immigration, U.S. Marshals and law enforcement have little or no information on his whereabouts…
Eswin was not a stranger to law enforcement and failed to honor his legal obligations for minor traffic infractions, prior to killing my daughter.
Now a failed local judicial system that set his bail too low coupled with flawed Obama administration policies have rewarded the illegal and punished my family and hampered law enforcement in their investigations.
The Omaha World-Herald reported in June 2016 that four senators from Nebraska and Iowa are working on a bill that will be known as “Sarah’s Law.” It will force authorities to hold in custody any undocumented immigrant who suspected of involvement in a crime that causes death or serious injury.
3. Root Graduated From Bellevue University the Day Before Her Death
The day before her death, Root had graduated from Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska, reports WOWT. In his speech at the GOP convention, Donald Trump made reference to Root’s “4.0 Grade Point Average.”
According to her Facebook page, Root was a native of Council Bluffs, Iowa. On her Instagram page, Root writes that she is a fan of the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox as well as the Kansas City Chiefs. She also writes a bible quote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me – Philippians 4:13.”
The killing of Stacey Root was not as widely covered by the media as the death of Kate Steinle. The suspect in that case is also an undocumented immigrant.
4. Mejia Is Now on the ICE’s Most Wanted List But Authorities Don’t Want to ‘Focus’ on His Immigration Status
Mejia is now on the Immigration and Customs Enforcements Most Wanted List. WOWT reports that Mejia was arrested in 2014 and 2015 for traffic violations. In 2014, he skipped a court appearance, according to the station. A local activist in the area where Root was killed told WOWT about her outrage over the treatment of Mejia’s case saying, “Why he let him out on such a low bond when the county attorney was asking for a higher bond? Why wasn’t there a detainer on him? Why didn’t they call ICE to come get him?”
KETV reports that authorities in Nebraska did not first disclose that Mejia was “undocumented” because they didn’t want to “focus” on that aspect.
Omaha Deputy Police Chief Dave Baker later told RadioIowa that investigators had asked the judge in the case to hold Mejia.
An Immigration and Customs spokesman, Shawn Neudauer, explained to conservative news site Breitbart about the decision not to hold Mejia saying:
At the time of his January 2016 arrest in Omaha on local criminal charges, Eswin Mejia, 19, of Honduras, did not meet ICE’s enforcement priorities, as stated by the Nov. 20, 2014 civil enforcement memo issued by Secretary Johnson, because he had no prior significant misdemeanor or felony conviction record.
As such, ICE did not lodge a detainer. Mejia is scheduled to go before an immigration judge on March 23, 2017, and it will be up to the immigration courts under the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to determine whether he has a legal basis to remain in the U.S.
5. The Judge Who Set the Bond for Mejia Was Previously Accused of Leaving a Profanity-Laced Voicemail on a Prosecutor’s Phone
In 2009, the Associated Press reported that Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo was found guilty of leaving “an expletive-laden threat in a voicemail to a prosecutor.” Marcuzzo was accused of trying to influence a criminal case involving his nephew, James Mangiameli, who was accused of violating a protection order, reported WOWT.
That case is referenced in a Change.org petition demanding justice for Sarah Root.