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Sainez v. Safford

August 25, 2008


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Marilyn L. Huff, District Judge United States District Court


On May 6, 2008, petitioner Aldo Omar Crotte Sainez ("Petitioner") filed a petition for the writ of habeas corpus, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2241, that challenges his detention by the United States Marshals Service pursuant to a magistrate judge's order granting a certificate of extraditability.*fn1 (Doc. No. 1.) On July 2, 2008, the government filed a response in opposition. (Doc. No. 8.) On July 18, 2008, Petitioner filed a reply. (Doc. No. 9.) The Court concludes that this matter is suitable for decision without oral argument and submits it on the papers in accordance with Local Civil Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the reasons discussed below, the Court denies the petition.


I. Procedural Overview

On November 5, 1999, the Criminal Court of the First Judicial District in Puente Grande, State of Jalisco, Mexico, issued an arrest warrant for offenses allegedly committed by Petitioner on June 26, 1999. In December 2006, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials arrested petitioner at the San Ysidro Port of Entry. On March 23, 2007, under the Extradition Treaty Between the United States of America and the United Mexican States, May 4, 1978, 31 U.S.T. 5059 ("Treaty"), Mexico requested Petitioner's extradition by submitting Diplomatic Note No. 2187 to the Secretary of State of the United States. Mexico sought to extradite Petitioner to answer charges of (1) Simple Intentional Homicide ("homicide") and (2) Battery/Bodily Injuries ("battery").

In support of Mexico's request, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California filed an extradition complaint against Petitioner on January 24, 2007. (Case No. 07-MJ-0177.) The magistrate judge held an extradition hearing on September 26, 2007, and on February 8, 2008, the magistrate judge certified the extradition request on the homicide charge but not the battery charge. On February 8, 2008, the magistrate judge also stayed extradition pending habeas review by the district court. The Government of Mexico agrees that the statute of limitations has expired on the battery charge. (See Resp't's Resp. Opp'n Ex 3.)

Petitioner raises several arguments to challenge his detention following the magistrate judge's certification order: (1) there is insufficient evidence to support extradition; (2) extradition is not proper since the United States statute of limitations has expired for the homicide charge; (3) partial certification is inconsistent with the Treaty; (4) the doctrine of specialty precludes extradition unless Mexico guarantees that it will not prosecute other charges.

Mexico requests Petitioner's extradition for the killing of Daniel Sandoval Abundis ("Sandoval") on June 26, 1999. Along with its Diplomatic Note requesting extradition, Mexico submitted seventeen pieces of documentary evidence, certified and authenticated as admissible under Mexican law by David T. Donahue, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs. These documents include: (1) statements by the Public Prosecutor; (2) various witness statements regarding the alleged shooting; (3) Sandoval's death record, autopsy report, and photographs of the body; (4) the request for issuance of an arrest warrant, including a summary of the Public Prosecutor's findings; (5) the resulting arrest warrant and writ certifying its validity; (6) excepts from the Jalisco penal code; and (7) a witness statement identifying Petitioner.

II. Supporting Allegations

The extradition request alleges that Petitioner shot and killed Sandoval in the course of a dispute on the evening of June 26, 1999. That night, Sandoval, Julio Cesar Sevillano Gonzalez ("Sevillano"), and others set out to confront a group, including Petitioner, known as Los Tejones. When Sandoval and company arrived outside the house where they believed Los Tejones to be, Sandoval's group began shouting vulgar threats and throwing rocks at the house and Petitioner's car. Petitioner, and possibly others, emerged from the house or Petitioner's car. As alleged, Petitioner produced his revolver and fired into Sandoval's group multiple times. Gunfire killed Sandoval and injured Sevillano. (See also Order Granting Part Denying Part Request Extradition, 07-MJ-0177, Doc. No. 30 ("Extradition Order") at 25-32 (summarizing the homicide evidence).)

A. Sevillano's Statements

The magistrate judge concluded that "Sevillano's statements demonstrate probable cause that [Petitioner] committed the homicide of Sandoval." (Extradition Order at 32.) Sevillano provided two statements. He made the first on June 27, 1999 at 1:30 a.m., a few hours after the incident, and the second on September 2, 1999. In his first statement, Sevillano identified Petitioner as the shooter:

[W]hen we arrived to that house we yelled at them "come out bastards," and in that moment the two brothers Rigo and David came out, as well as Aldo Omar Crote [Petitioner], and I saw he was holding a gun with his hand, and shoot at Daniel and me, who were walking ahead, as well as at the rest of my friends, and suddenly I felt my right hand wounded, and the left side of my chest was hurting bad, so we ran around the corner and my friend Cain Juan and Juanito Alcala arrived in a car which I boarded so they brought me to [a medical center] . . . . (Diplomatic Note Ex. 6.) His second statement also identified Petitioner:

[W]hen El Dany [Sandoval] and I were outside the brothers' house in which Aldo [Petitioner] also lives, we started to yell at them "come out assholes to kick your ass" we did it several times so Aldo went out holding the same weapon that he had used to shoot at us previously as I stated before. When Aldo went out he ran towards us aiming his gun at us, so Dany and me were going back, it was at that moment that he started shooting at us as the brothers David and Rigoberto were going out too. When Aldo was shooting us I felt my right hand injured and at the same time I felt my chest right under my left nipple injured too, I felt that I was wounded and fell to the ground as I was going back, since Aldo was shooting us as we were retreating. When I was on the ground I didn't see where my friend Dany had gone because I was a bit unconscious and dizzy, but I felt that I was being dragged by my shoulders, I got better after a while and then I noticed that my friends were carrying my friend Dany and left him laying on his back, so I went towards Dany and noticed that there was a hole on his shirt around the left part of his chest . . . . (Diplomatic Note Ex. 12.)

B. Forensic Evidence

Mexican authorities conducted an autopsy which indicated that a bullet had entered and exited Sandoval's left arm and reentered his front left chest at the height of the nipple. (See Diplomatic Note Exs. 8-9.) Ballistics experts concluded that "the projectile corresponds to a .22 caliber (Long-Rifle) lead-bullet." (Diplomatic Note Ex. 13.) The Public ...

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