Illegal Immigrant Facing Felony Self-Deports Himself

Arrest Warrant Issued For Torres-Ochoa

An illegal immigrant accused of felony theft will not stand trial. Instead, he was given the chance to go home to Mexico.

Damacio Torres-Ochoa was scheduled in court Monday afternoon in Jefferson County to face charges of theft from an at-risk adult. But Torres-Ochoa never showed up in court. He was in Mexico.

"He self-deports," said Scott Storey, Jefferson County district attorney. "He says, 'You know what, I am illegally here, I don't want to fight it, get rid of me.' So what happens? They take him across the border. Do you think he comes back? Well my guess is he comes back and he comes back under another alias and we haven't got justice here."

Storey is outraged Torres-Ochoa was allowed to self-deport.

Storey said Torres-Ochoa bonded out of the Jefferson County Jail on Oct. 4. He was not allowed to leave, because Immigration and Customs Enforcement had placed a hold on him. Storey said on Oct. 6 ICE officials picked up Torres-Ochoa and on Oct. 19, Torres-Ochoa was flown to El Paso, Texas and walked across the border.

Robert Wallace, the victim in this case, learned of the deportation during the court hearing Monday.

"Some of it does not make any sense at all," said Wallace.

Storey said Torres-Ochoa drove the truck which was hooked up to Wallace's trailer when it was stolen.

"I don't know what to think," said Wallace, confused.

Torres-Ochoa faced 12 years in prison for the crime.

"If a person can self-deport without any consequences, you are treating him better than you are our own citizens," said Storey.

Wallace pleaded guilty in September to shooting at Damacio Torres-Ochoa and Alvaro Cardona while they were stealing the trailer. Cardona was shot in the head and suffered severe injuries. Wallace was sentenced to two years of probation for the shooting. He is now a convicted felon.

"I sat down and apologized to (Wallace)," said Storey, explaining how he said it was unfair Wallace had to face the consequences for his actions, yet Torres-Ochoa did not.

Storey said laws need to be changed to make sure something like this can't happen.

"When you have charges, felony charges, class 3 felony charges, that we are prosecuting, that have not come all the way through the system, (ICE) should be precluded from deporting (the suspect)," said Storey.

Storey said there is no law that requires immigration officials to keep an illegal immigrant in the country to face charges.

"It is almost like (ICE is) implicit in him escaping from justice," said Storey.

"By law, once we have received all necessary travel documents on an alien in ICE custody, we must remove him or her at the earliest opportunity," said Carl Rusnok, spokesman for ICE.

Storey said this entire thing would not be an issue had the judge, Thomas Vance, not reduced Torres-Ochoa's bond from $100,000 to $27,500.

"Thomas Vance knew he was an illegal because of the fact I had it on the paperwork," said Storey. "Yet he found it necessary to reduce it to $27,500."

Storey said he sent the chief county and district judges letters asking them to keep bonds high on known illegal immigrants because of their flight risk.

"It is a frequent problem that we local district attorneys face and it has got to stop," said Storey.

7NEWS contacted Vance who was unable to comment on the bond reduction, citing judicial rules on pending cases.

Torres-Ochoa used Reliable Bail Bonds to secure his bond.

7NEWS contacted Rosalie Montoya of Reliable Bail Bonds who said she will now apply for exoneration of forfeiture.

In 2007, the Colorado legislature passed a law that states if a bail bondsman secures a bond for a person who later turns out to be an illegal immigrant, the bondsman can get the bond back, minus the fee charged.

Montoya said the fee in this case was $2,750 for the $27,500 bond. Torres-Ochoa's sister also put up her house as collateral.

Montoya said she expects to gets everything back minus the $2,750. If for some reason she does not get the money back, she said she then has the right to go after Torres-Ochoa's sister's house.

On Tuesday, an arrest warrant was issued for Torres-Ochoa. His bond, if arrested, will be $250,000 cash.