Tuesday, November 15


Juan Robles Gutierrez, the illegal alien bus driver originally charged with 23 counts of negligent homicide for the horrific bus fire that claimed the lives of 23 senior citizens during the Hurricane Rita evacuation from Houston (and about whom I have posted extensively), was not indicted by a Dallas grand jury, according to this report in today's Houston Chronicle (registration required for online edition).

A grand jury declined to indict the driver of the charter bus that burst into flames and killed 23 Bellaire nursing home residents as they fled Hurricane Rita, Dallas County prosecutors said Monday.

The Dallas County Sheriff's Department had referred 23 counts of negligent homicide against Juan Robles Gutierrez, one for each death, to the district attorney, who presented them to the grand jury.

"I was always convinced that a grand jury or jury would vindicate my client of any responsibility in this," said Robles' attorney, George Shaffer. "My client is not a crook. He isn't a criminal. He didn't cause these people to die."

Gutierrez, of course, must be regarded as innocent of the charges until proven guilty and, now that the grand jury has decided not to return an indictment, he is appropriately deemed not culpable of the deaths under the law. But, while he is not a criminal in that context, he is nonetheless a lawbreaker, as he is an illegal alien border jumper.

Thomas Korosec of the Chronicle goes on to report (excerpts follow):

Shaffer said he expected Robles to be released from federal custody in Houston as early as today if federal immigration authorities set bail. He has posted a separate $50,000 bond in connection with his role as a witness in a federal probe into the fatal explosion and fire.

Robles has been detained for unlawfully entering the United States in January, one month before he went to work for Pharr-based Global Limo.

Shaffer, who declined to say what his client has told federal investigators in the sealed proceedings in Houston, said Robles was only a driver and was not responsible for servicing the buses or operating the company. Once Robles' cooperation in the federal investigation is fulfilled, he plans to return home to Mexico, Shaffer said.

"He will be happy to depart on his own accord and go back home and try to put this ordeal behind him," the lawyer said.

Would someone more knowledgeable than I help me with immigration law here, as I question whether Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents have the latitude to allow an illegal alien to return to Mexico of his or her own volition after having been apprehended for illegal entry into this country (maybe this makes my question academic). Robles is clearly not an OTM ("Other Than Mexican"). Am I to understand from the Chronicle's story that Robles is to be released by federal authorities? Does an apprehended illegal alien from Mexico have that right -- i.e., to post bail? This story would suggest that they do.

What a system.