Joeri DeBeer, the Dutch youth convicted of murdering the man who allegedly molested him, was resentenced Friday to three years' probation, allowing DeBeer's lawyers to ask Superior Court Judge Robert R. Fitzgerald to formally recommend against his deportation.
Last year, Fitzgerald stated publicly that he believed there is no reason why DeBeer should be deported. Friday, Fitzgerald declined to comment, saying he had already made his feelings clear.
"The court action today means that Joeri has a fighting chance of beating this unwarranted and vindictive action by the INS," said John R. Alcorn, the lawyer who is handling the appeal of a federal immigration judge's order that DeBeer be deported because of student visa violations and his murder conviction.
Alcorn said that, under federal law, a recommendation from a state judge is binding under certain circumstances on the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
"Federal law says that a state judge has the authority to recommend that the person not be deported on the grounds of the criminal conviction, and that recommendation is binding," Alcorn said. Any recommendation must be made within 30 days of sentencing.
Resentencing was critical to DeBeers' hopes because Fitzgerald was not asked to make a recommendation to the INS within the time limit after the young man was sentenced the first time last summer, according to Alcorn.
DeBeer was found guilty of murdering Philip A. Parsons, a convicted child molester. Parsons had persuaded DeBeer's mother that he could help the young man's budding career as a motorcycle racer, and she allowed him to bring DeBeer to the United States when he was 13.
DeBeer testified that Parsons sexually molested him. He was convicted of shooting Parsons, driving the body to Riverside County, pouring gasoline on the corpse and setting it on fire.
In an extraordinary courtroom drama, all 12 jurors and an alternate appeared at DeBeer's sentencing and asked for mercy, urging Fitzgerald to give the young man special consideration. Fitzgerald agreed and gave DeBeer probation.
Ruling Under Appeal
DeBeer, now living with guardians near San Francisco, is enrolled in a community college.
An immigration judge who ordered DeBeer deported last November cited both the murder conviction and the fact that his student visa had expired. That ruling is being appealed, a process that usually takes 18 months.
Alcorn said the INS is unfairly singling DeBeer out for special treatment.
"They let a lot of other aliens who have been convicted of crimes go," the lawyer said. "Thousands are released from state prisons every year, with no real effort by INS to deport them."
An error in DeBeer's first sentence was corrected Friday. The amount of time he was ordered to serve in jail was reduced to one year, to bring it into conformity with state statutes. The change had no effect on DeBeer's status because he had been sentenced to time he had already served while awaiting trial.