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Mexican Consul to Aid Defense in Murder Case

May 16, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The Mira Loma man who allegedly carjacked a Walnut motorist and dragged him to his death outside Ontario International Airport in March will receive legal assistance from the Mexican consulate.

The San Bernardino County district attorney's office is considering pursuing the death penalty against Jose Luis Chichipa, a Mexican.

Carlos Giralt, Mexico's consul in San Bernardino, said he will gather information from local police and in Mexico in an effort to avoid execution.

Deputy Public Defender Teresa Snodgrass said she may cite alleged treaty violations by Ontario police to suppress incriminating statements made by Chichipa.

The 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations states that criminal suspects arrested in a foreign country must be informed of their right to contact their consular office for legal assistance. But Ontario Police Sgt. John Evans said the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs has said notification is not mandatory for Mexicans arrested in the U.S.

A preliminary hearing for Chichipa, 40, is scheduled for Aug. 18 in San Bernardino County. Special circumstances of murder during a carjacking make Chichipa eligible for the death penalty, authorities said.

According to Ontario police, Chichipa dragged Seok Young Rhee, 55, from his vehicle on March 24. Rhee was caught in his seat belt and eventually dragged to death, police said.

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