An illegal immigrant charged with killing a Lawrence grandmother could face only five years behind bars under a plea deal in court today — leaving Mirta Rivera’s grieving family sickened at the lax punishment and calling for stronger immigration laws.
“My mom’s life was only worth five years? You’ve got to be kidding me,” said son Darwing Nieves of the plea.
Dominican Republic national Jose M. Lara-Mejia, charged with killing his downstairs neighbor Rivera on July 4, 2015, after he accidentally shot through his apartment floor into her bedroom below, would be sentenced to between 4 1/2 and five years if he accepts the plea today.
Assistant District Attorney Karen Hopwood recommended an eight-to-10-year sentence if Lara-Mejia pleads guilty to involun-tary manslaughter, while defense attorney William R. Sullivan suggested three-to-five years, according to court documents. Judge Thomas Feeley settled on 4 1/2 to five years, according to court documents.
“We made the recommendation that we thought was appropriate,” said Carrie Kimball Monahan, spokeswoman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett.
Lara-Mejia was supposed to be deported in 2014, but eluded Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials until the shooting.
He is supposed to be deported after he serves his time.
“They always get sent back to their country and then come right back,” said a frustrated Nieves.
“What’s going to happen is, he’s going back to his country and will come back and he’ll kill somebody else.”
The devastating case highlights the dangers of a porous national border — which newly sworn-in President Trump has vowed to seal.
Trump has vowed to deport up to 3 million criminals, and some local sheriffs have pledged to help streamline the process by alerting immigration officials if they have prisoners who are here illegally.
“Our obligation first and foremost is to provide public safety and national security for all the legal residents here,” said Bristol County Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.
“That’s why President Trump is on the right track saying, ‘We’re going to double down and secure these borders and minimize the chance that they can get back here.’ ”
Hodgson cited other recent cases of illegal immigrants charged with killing, including Walter DaSilva, a twice-deported Brazilian accused of gunning down his teenage daughter in New Bedford on July 3 for snubbing him on Father’s Day.
Milford mom Maureen Maloney, whose son was dragged to death by a drunken-driving Ecuadorian illegal immigrant, joined Trump on stage at a September rally.
“These things are happening all over the country,” Hodgson said.
“These changes are long overdue, we have to build this wall, we need this immigration security plan.”
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