Complaint filed against judge who set low bond for fugitive immigrant

Eswin Mejia, a fugitive alien. (Omaha Police Department)

LINCOLN, Neb. — The parents of an Iowa woman who authorities say was killed by a drunken driver in the country illegally have filed a complaint with the Nebraska Supreme Court against the judge who set the now-missing suspect’s bail.

Bail was $50,000 for Eswin Mejia after he was charged with vehicular homicide in the Omaha collision between his vehicle and one driven by 21-year-old Sarah Root of Council Bluffs. He hasn’t been seen since posting the required 10 percent of the bail, or $5,000.

Root’s parents have been collecting petition signatures and Monday gave more than 5,000 to the high court in Lincoln. They want Judge Jeffery Marcuzzo kicked off the bench or punished for setting the bail low enough for Mejia to post 10 percent and flee.

Police say Mejia was driving drunk and street racing when his vehicle rammed into the rear of the SUV Root was driving. Just 16 hours earlier she had graduated summa cum laude from Bellevue University, south of Omaha.

Finger-pointing has followed Mejia’s disappearance. The bond hearing before Marcuzzo lasted 2 minutes, 25 seconds, court records show.

Sarah Root, 21, graduated from Nebraska's Bellevue University on Jan. 30, 2016. She died from injuries sustained in a Jan. 31 accident. (Photo: Contributed)
Sarah Root, 21, graduated from Nebraska’s Bellevue University on Jan. 30, 2016. She died from injuries sustained in a Jan. 31 accident. (Photo: Contributed)
Local law enforcement officials asked U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement to issue a detainer that would have kept Mejia in jail for a few additional days. The extra time could have potentially given local officials time to persuade ICE officials that Mejia was a flight risk.

ICE declined to issue the detainer and has since said that even with the detainer, Mejia would have been eligible for a bond hearing before an immigration judge “because he had no criminal conviction” and wasn’t subject to mandatory detention under federal immigration laws.

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