Source: NBC 5 San Diego
SAN DIEGO — Officials said Thursday that a man accused of killing a young woman in a hit-and-run crash was in the U.S. illegally.Say it with me kids, "The Deportation Joke!"
According to prosecutors, Rafael Ramirez Perez, 22, was deported to Mexico in 2006. Perez was in court Thursday in El Cajon for an arraignment in connection with Amy Kortlang’s death.
Emotions ran high as the family of the victim and the suspect watched Perez walk into the courtroom. Kortlang’s family came to court with pictures of her and the crumpled Honda she was driving when she was hit by a drunken driver and killed last week.
Authorities said the driver took off on foot afterward. According to Kristian Troche, the deputy district attorney handling the case, Perez was that driver.
During the arraignment, Perez never looked at Kortlang’s family or the few members of his own family who were in court. At one point, he hung his head as the prosecutor described details of the hit-and-run, reported NBC 7/39..
Troche said that Perez has four prior convictions for driving under the influence. NBC 7/39 searched court documents and found information that the first took place in April 2003. The next record listed a conviction in July 2003. Perez entered not guilty pleas and was sentenced to 12 days and probation for each of those convictions.
In February 2005, Perez entered a guilty plea to a third DUI charge. In that case, he was sentenced to a year in prison.
Then, in March 2006, he was deported to Mexico. Troche said that Perez was in the country illegally when he ran over Kortlang.
Kortlang’s family members told NBC 7/39 that they had expected a video arraignment and was warned by the court that he would be there in person. The news was too much for some family members to bear.
“Rage, rage. I want my hands on him,” said Melanie Kortlang, Amy’s mother.
For his part, Perez also had family in court on Thursday. One of his family members told NBC 7/39 that Perez’s wife left him a few years ago and that sent him into a deep depression and he started drinking.
Funeral services for Kortlang have been set for 6 p.m. at the Erickson Anderson Chapel in La Mesa.
H/T immigration watchdog
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