An illegal immigrant who murdered a San Antonio man just two weeks after an immigration judge granted him a voluntary departure order was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.
Ernesto Esquivel-Garcia was convicted in August of murdering his 20-year-old former co-worker Jared Vargas, who allegedly called him to purchase cocaine, Fox affiliate KABB reported.
Esquivel-Garcia admitted to police he’d strangled Vargas with a charging cable, wrapped his head in tape and then stabbed him multiple times, according to court testimony. He claimed that he feared Vargas would try to sexually assault him.
San Antonio officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed in July of last year that they’d had Esquivel-Garcia in their custody twice before, ABC affiliate KSAT reported.
On both occasions, immigration officials released Esquivel-Garcia, who had a criminal arrest for driving while intoxicated on his record and an active arrest warrant for obstructing a highway.
“Before departing ICE’s office May 29, 2018, ICE deportation officers instructed Esquivel-Garcia to leave the United States by July 20, 2018, as imposed by the immigration judge’s voluntary departure order,” an ICE spokeswoman said in a statement last year.
Esquivel-Garcia argued self-defense during the trial. His claim was rebutted by prosecutors, who said the Mexican native stuffed his victim’s body in a closet and left it there for two days.
According to prosecutors, Esquivel-Garcia bought gasoline and burned Vargas’ body in an apartment. Prosecutors said Esquivel-Garcia planned to go to Mexico.
“His murderer, an illegal alien, had been in ICE and Bexar County custody repeatedly ending with an immigration judge granting a voluntary departure judgment. Just two weeks later, Ernesto murdered Jared,” said Lori Vargas, the victim’s mother.
Cristin Vargas, Jared’s aunt, said Esquivel-Garcia showed “no remorse” for his crime.
“Jared is still gone. Jared is not coming back. It’s very difficult to find closure when his murderer has chosen not take accountability and shows no remorse and ultimately were left with a lot of unanswered questions,” she told KABB.
Esquivel-Garcia is eligible for parole in 30 years.