Categoria: crime

Idaho Poised To Allow Firing-Squad Executions

By Rebecca Boone | Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho is poised to allow firing squads to execute condemned inmates when the state can’t get lethal-injection drugs, under a bill the Legislature passed Monday with a veto-proof majority.

Firing squads will be used only if the state cannot obtain the drugs needed for lethal injections — and one death row inmate has already had his scheduled execution postponed multiple times because of drug scarcity.

Idaho previously had a firing squad option on the books but has never used it. The option was removed from state law in 2009 after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a method of lethal injection that was commonly used at the time.

Only Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma and South Carolina currently have laws allowing firing squads if other execution methods are unavailable, according to the Death Penalty Information Center. A judge has put South Carolina’s law on hold until a lawsuit challenging the method is resolved.

Gov. Brad Little, a Republican, has voiced his support for the death penalty but generally does not comment on legislation before he signs or vetoes it.

Sen. Doug Ricks, a Republican who co-sponsored the bill, told his fellow senators on Monday that the state’s difficulty in finding lethal injection drugs could continue “indefinitely” and that he believes death by firing squad is “humane.”

“This is a rule of law issue — our criminal system should work and penalties should be exacted,” Ricks said.

But Sen. Dan Foreman, also a Republican, said firing-squad executions would traumatize the people who who carry them out, the people who witness them and the people who clean up afterward.”I’ve seen the aftermath of shootings, and it’s psychologically damaging to anybody who witnesses it,” Foreman said. “The use of the firing squad is, in my opinion, beneath the dignity of the state of Idaho.”

The bill originated with Republican Rep. Bruce Skaug, prompted in part by the state’s inability to execute Gerald Pizzuto Jr. late last year. Pizzuto, who now has terminal cancer and other debilitating illnesses, has spent more than three decades on death row for his role in the 1985 slayings of two gold prospectors.

The Idaho Department of Correction estimates that it will cost around $750,000 to build or retrofit a death chamber for firing squad executions.

Idaho Department of Correction Director Jeff Tewalt last year told lawmakers there would likely be as many legal challenges to planned firing squad executions as there are to lethal injections. At the time, he said he would be reluctant to ask his staffers to participate in a firing squad.

“I don’t feel, as the director of the Idaho Department of Correction, the compulsion to ask my staff to do that,” Tewalt said.

Both Tewalt and his former co-worker Kevin Kempf played a key role in obtaining the drugs used in the 2012 execution of Richard Albert Leavitt, flying to Tacoma, Washington, with more than $15,000 in cash to buying them from a pharmacist. The trip was carefully kept secret by the department but revealed in court documents after University of Idaho professor Aliza Cover sued for the information under a public records act.

Kempf was promoted to lead the Idaho Department of Correction two years later but now is the executive director of the Correctional Leaders Association. He said the execution process is always challenging for all involved, including the family members of victims. Those challenges could be amplified in firing squad executions, he said.

“I’ve got to say at the same time, my thoughts go to staff members that may have to carry out something, per law, that looks like putting someone to death,” Kempf told the AP during a phone interview earlier this month. “That is nothing I would assume any correctional director would take lightly, asking someone-slash-ordering someone to do that.”

Associated Press journalist Michael Tarm in Chicago contributed to this report.

Mother Arrested On Suspicion Of Abandoning Baby In Fullerton Gas Station Trash Can

A 25-year-old woman was arrested Friday morning, March 10, on suspicion of abandoning her newborn baby boy in a trash can at a Chevron gas station in Fullerton, authorities said.

The Fullerton resident was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and felony child abuse after Fullerton police served a search warrant in the 400 block of West Orangethorpe Avenue, about five blocks east of the station on the southeast corner of Orangethorpe and Euclid Street, Sgt. Ryan O’Neil said.

Detectives found surveillance footage at the gas station that showed a physical description of the suspected mother and learned of possible vehicle information, which helped then identify the woman, O’Neil said.

Police were called to the gas station about 3:30 p.m. Thursday after the newborn was found, Lt. Tim Kandler said. It wasn’t known if a gas station employee or a customer found the baby boy.

The baby was crying, but otherwise in good health, Kandler said. He was taken to a hospital.

Whether the woman gave birth inside the bathroom or walked in with the newborn and left him there was unclear, police said.

Under California’s Safe Haven Law, the parent of a newborn infant can anonymously surrender the baby within three days to a hospital emergency room or a designated fire station without facing arrest as long as the baby was not abused or neglected.

Nathaniel Percy | Reporter Nathaniel Percy has worked for the Southern California News Group since 2014 covering a wide range of topics including community sports and cities in Orange County, as well as crime and public safety in the South Bay and Long Beach. Prior to SCNG, Nathaniel spent five years covering community sports for the La Habra Journal, an independent bi-monthly community newspaper. Nathaniel also does freelance play-by-play broadcast work for high school football and baseball.

DOJ: Pattern Of Violations At Louisville PD After Breonna Taylor Shooting

By Dylan Lovan | Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The U.S. Justice Department found Louisville police have engaged in a pattern of violating constitutional rights and discrimination against the Black community following an investigation prompted by the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor.

Attorney General Merrick Garland made the announcement Wednesday. A Justice Department report found the Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government and Louisville Metro Police Department “engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprives people of their rights under the Constitution and federal law.”

The report said the Louisville police department “discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities,” uses excessive force and conducts searches based on invalid warrants. It also said the department violates the rights of people engaged in protected speech, like the street protests in the city in the summer of 2020 after Taylor’s death. Garland said some officers have assaulted people with disabilities and called Black people disparaging names.

“This conduct is unacceptable, it is heartbreaking,” Garland said. “It erodes the community trust necessary for effective policing and it is an affront to the vast majority of officers who put their lives on the line every day to serve Louisville with honor.”

The sweeping probe announced in April 2021 is known as a “pattern or practice” investigation — examining whether there is a pattern of unconstitutional or unlawful policing inside the department. The city will sign a negotiated agreement with the Justice Department and a federal officer will monitor the progress.

Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg said the city “has wounds that are not yet healed.”

“We have to come to terms with where we’ve been, so we can get to where we want to be,” Greenberg said.

Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman, was roused from her bed by police who came through the door using a battering ram after midnight on March 13, 2020. Three officers fired shots after Taylor’s boyfriend, fearing an intruder, shot an officer in the leg. Taylor was struck several times and died at the scene.

The warrant used to enter her home is now part of a separate federal criminal investigation, and one former Louisville officer has already pleaded guilty to helping falsify information on the warrant. No drugs were found in Taylor’s home. Two more officers are charged in the warrant probe, and a third, Brett Hankison, is charged with endangering Taylor and her neighbors with his shots into her apartment.

One of the attorneys for Taylor’s family, Ben Crump, said the family was encouraged by the Justice Department’s results.

“These findings, and LMPD’s expected cooperation with the DOJ’s recommended remedial measures, will help protect the citizens of Louisville and shape its culture of policing,” Crump said in a news release.

The report said Black motorists were more likely to be searched during traffic stops, and officers used neck restraints, police dogs and Tasers against people who posed no imminent threat. Garland cited one incident where two officers threw drinks at pedestrians and recorded the encounters. Those incidents happened in 2018 and 2019. Both officers are facing federal charges.

Louisville police have undergone five leadership changes since the Taylor shooting, and new Mayor Craig Greenberg is interviewing candidates for the next chief. The city has settled a number of lawsuits related to the incident, including a $12 million payment to Taylor’s family that ended a wrongful death lawsuit.

Garland also mentioned some reforms the city has undergone since Taylor’s death, including a city law banning the use of “no-knock” warrants in 2020. The warrants are typically used in surprise drug raids. The city also started a pilot program that aims to send behavioral health professionals to some 911 calls, expanded community violence prevention efforts and sought to support health and wellness for officers, the report said.

4 Americans Kidnapped In Northern Mexico, Officials Say

MEXICO CITY — Four U.S. citizens have been kidnapped after gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the northern Mexico border city of Matamoros, the FBI said.

The four had entered Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, on Friday and were travelling in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates.

The FBI San Antonio Division office said in a statement Sunday that the vehicle came under fire shortly after it entered Mexico.

“All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the office said. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for the return of the victims and the arrest of the culprits.

RELATED: Mexico danger map: Six states under ‘do not travel’ warning

Matamoros is home to warring factions of the Gulf drug cartel and shootouts there on Friday were so bad that the U.S. Consulate issued an alert about the danger and local authorities warned people to shelter in place. It was not immediately clear how the abductions could have been connected to that violence Friday.

Tamaulipas state police said people had been killed and injured Friday, but did not say how many. The state police said that neither police nor the military were involved in Friday’s shootouts.

“There have been two armed incidents between unidentified civilians,” the state police said Friday on social media. “The exact number of the fallen is being corroborated.”

Victims of violence in Matamoros and other large border cities of Tamaulipas often go uncounted, because the cartels have a history taking bodies of their own with them. Local media often avoid reporting on such incidents out of safety concerns, creating an information vacuum.

Videos posted to social media Friday showed armed men loading two bodies into a truck in broad daylight.

The U.S. State Department’s travel warning for Tamaulipas state warns U.S. citizens not to travel there. However, being a border city, U.S. citizens who live in Brownsville or elsewhere in Texas frequently cross to visit family, attend medical appointments or shop. It would also be a crossing point for people traveling deeper into Mexico.

For years, a night out in Matamoros was also part of the “two-nation vacation” for spring breakers flocking to Texas’ South Padre Island. But increased violence there over the past 10 to 15 years frightened away much of that business.

The FBI said the van the victims were driving Friday carried North Carolina license plates, but authorities provided no other details about who they were or where they were from.

Associated Press The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative, serving member newspapers and broadcasters in the U.S., and other customers around the world. The Southern California News Group is one of them. AP journalists in more than 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting to visual storytelling. Since 1846, AP has been covering the world’s biggest news events, committed to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism. Learn more about policies and standards in AP’s Statement of News Values and Principles.

Storm To Bring More Rain And Snow But Less Chaos To Southern California

Another storm system was anticipated to descend on Southern California from the north late Tuesday, Feb. 28, and flow into Wednesday afternoon — but aside from more rainfall and snow, it wasn’t anticipated to cause as much chaos as last week, weather forecasters said.

Scattered showers were expected to begin Tuesday afternoon, with more widespread rainfall expected overnight and into Wednesday morning, likely affecting the morning commutes, meteorologists with the National Weather Service said.

In all, most populated areas across Southern California were anticipated to receive a quarter- to half-inch of rain, with some areas on the western edge of the Inland Empire possibly receiving up to three-quarters of an inch, Meteorologist Dan Gregoria said.

“It shouldn’t be nearly to the degree of what we had last week,” Meteorologist Ryan Kittell said. “The winds will be weaker. You might have a tree or two that comes down, but most of the vulnerable trees already came down last week.”

The storm adds on to what has already been an above-average year for Southern California rainfall.

As of Tuesday, downtown Los Angeles had received 18.77 inches of rainfall since Oct. 1, which meteorologists mark as the beginning of rain season. Downtown Los Angeles averages 10.65 inches of rainfall through the end of February, Kittell said.

John Wayne Airport had received 11.67 inches of rain, up from its average of 8.52, Gregoria said. In Ontario, the 14.64 inches was exactly 6 inches above normal for this time of year.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s rain was not anticipated to bring flood watches, advisories or warnings — though Orange County and the Inland Empire will have a wind advisory from midnight Wednesday through the afternoon, Gregoria said.

More snow was expected in the mountains and possibly again in foothill communities like La Crescenta, Kittell said. Snow levels could reach as low as 1,500 feet Wednesday morning and areas in the San Bernardino Mountains were projected to receive one to two feet.

“The biggest issue with the snow levels is the roads,” Kittell said. “The (5 Freeway) and 14 Freeway, those areas could see significant snow accumulations that will likely cause delays, if not hours of closures.”

And with all the snow, an increased risk of avalanches was present, especially higher in the mountains, Kittell said. One had already occurred in the San Jacinto Mountains.

Earlier today an avalanche was observed on the north face of San Jacinto from the 10 freeway.

📷 Joyce Schwartz – Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit

Schwartz said her and a friend were driving west on Interstate 10, making there way to Palm Springs when..

— Coachella Valley (@AnInsidersGuide) February 28, 2023

“The snow, the depth of it and the powdery nature of it is increasing the risk for (an avalanche),” he said.

As of Monday evening, Caltrans began offering escorts up Highways 18 and 330 to residents looking to get back to homes in the mountains after the roadways were closed during last week’s storm but stopped at 9 p.m. An announcement was anticipated Tuesday at 11 a.m. regarding the possibility of additional escorts, officials said.

The storm system was expected to clear out by Wednesday afternoon.

Temperatures will stay cool, with forecasted highs in the mid-60s on Friday and Saturday, but Southern California should stay dry and mostly sunny from Thursday through early Sunday.

Listen To The New Season Of The Felonious Florida Podcast: Innocence Sold

A new season of the true-crime podcast Felonious Florida tells the story of a 15-year-old Florida girl who goes missing after a mysterious, two-hour walk in the early morning hours of May 20, 2017.

The clues draw Sophie Reeder’s family and detectives to a horrifying conclusion.

When investigative reporters dive into Sophie’s case, it leads them to another just like it. Then another, and another. They surface in the world of child sex trafficking, where thousands of vulnerable girls across the country fall prey to dangerous, violent predators. Traffickers who see these girls as merchandise to turn into profit — and to kill if they don’t cooperate.

This six-episode investigation tells their terrifying stories and exposes failures by law enforcement, courts and support services that are supposed to keep children safe. Yet every day — all around us — girls like Sophie Reeder are stolen, and often never found.

Listen to the trailer for Season 3: Innocence Sold:

Episodes 1 and 2 are available now, with new episodes coming every Monday through March.

Listen at or on these platforms: Apple Podcasts | Wondery | Amazon Music | Spotify | Castbox | Stitcher | Google Podcasts.

Sophie Reeder. (South Florida Sun Sentinel) 1 | The disappearance of Sophie Reeder

When 15-year-old Sophie Reeder disappears from her Florida home, it appears at first that she has run away. But clues begin to emerge that something terrible has happened to Sophie. Then more cases surface that expose a violent world that lures in girls like Sophie and tears their lives apart — or leaves them dead and often forgotten. The mystery of Sophie Reeder’s fate hinges on one thing: If somebody out there knows what happened to her, why haven’t they come forward? Listen now.

Horror in Hotel Rooms. (South Florida Sun Sentinel) 2 | Horror in Hotel Rooms 

Nobody knows when 16-year-old Marina Ralph entered room 334 of an Extended Stay hotel in Florida, or what happened to her while there. What we do know is that Marina was terrified of something. The only person who might have known what happened to her was a friend she met at school — but now, both girls are dead. Listen now.

Shanika Ampah. (South Florida Sun Sentinel) 3 | ‘The Perfect Victim’

Shanika Ampah was a straight-A girl from a home with two loving parents. But a horrifying tragedy struck and by the age of just 11, she was lured by predators and taken on the road to be sold as a product out of a tractor trailer. For seven years she endured horror no girl ever should — until one day when she catches a break. Listen March 6.

The crime of surviving. (South Florida Sun Sentinel) 4 | The Crime of Surviving 

A 13-year-old girl disappears from her mother’s apartment, only to return a week later beaten, raped, and with a rose tattoo on her neck. She barely escaped her terrifying ordeal. But within hours, police have her in handcuffs — she’s under arrest for crimes her captors forced her to commit. Listen March 13.

A human trafficking pipeline. (South Florida Sun Sentinel) 5 | ‘A Human Trafficking Pipeline’ 

A staff mentor at a group foster home lures away two teenage residents to be sold for sex in hotel rooms from the Florida Keys to Tampa. A car crash in the middle of the night offers what may be their only chance to escape — but their captor isn’t finished with them yet. Listen March 20.

The search for Sophie Reeder intensifies. (South Florida Sun Sentinel) 6 | Where All the Sad Girls Go

William Foster goes from pimping his high school sweetheart to building one of Florida’s largest trafficking empires. His fortune is made off dozens of girls — some of them underage — stripping and selling themselves for sex. But a monster hurricane off the coast of Florida would threaten to bring it all down. Plus, the search for Sophie Reeder intensifies. Listen March 27.

Brittany Wallman joins moderator David Schutz, David Fleshler, private investigator John Rode, Spencer Norris, and Angine Moss of Hossana4Youth record a special episode of Felonious Florida at the PodPopuli studio in Boca Raton on Thursday, January 26, 2023. (South Florida Sun Sentinel) Special Episode | Case updates and more

There have been some updates to cases featured in Season 3 of Felonious Florida: Innocence Sold. In a special episode, host David Schutz is joined by the reporters who brought you Season 3 as well as two special guests to hear what’s happened in the past two months. The team also talk the challenges of reporting on these difficult cases and the issues of child sex trafficking raised in our investigation. Listen now.

* * *

Felonious Florida is produced by the South Florida Sun Sentinel in association with Wondery. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Reach us by email at

The Sun Sentinel’s full investigation into child sex trafficking can found online at

What We Know About The Suspect In Bishop David O’Connell’s Killing

Carlos Medina, the man arrested in the slaying of Bishop David O’Connell, was identified Monday, Feb. 20, as the husband of the bishop’s housekeeper.

Medina surrendered at about 9 a.m. Monday after a standoff with Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies outside his home near Torrance. Medina is suspected of shooting O’Connell in the bedroom of his home in Hacienda Heights around 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18.

Sheriff Robert Luna speaks during a press conference in Los Angeles on Monday, February 20, 2023. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has now confirmed the arrest of suspect, Carlos Medina, in the killing of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell. (Photo by Brittany Murray, Press-Telegram/SCNG) Medina’s arrest brings some measure of relief to a shocked and shaken community. But many questions, including that of a suspected motive, remain unanswered.

Here’s what we know about the suspect so far:

Medina’s wife is a devout Catholic who had worked as the bishop’s housekeeper for several years, said neighbor Luis Lopez. Authorities did not release her name. The bishop lived in a modest Hacienda Heights dwelling owned by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The wife would often take care of the bishop’s small white dog at her residence in unincorporated West Carson, the neighbor said. Medina himself previously worked at the home of the bishop, Sheriff Robert Luna said. The sheriff said the suspect is 65, although jail records for a Carlos Medina say he is 61. The tipster who alerted the Sheriff’s Department to Medina said that after the shooting, Medina made some irrational comments and claimed the bishop owed him money. The couple had a tenant living in a back unit of their home. The tenant emerged when police arrived around midnight, Lopez said, but the wife and Medina did not appear to be home. Medina arrived home around 2 a.m., the sheriff said, and barricaded himself in the house. He surrendered at 9 a.m. Medina owned at least two firearms, which were recovered by the LASD on Monday. The make and caliber of the guns were not released. He also owned a navy-blue Honda SUV that was towed from his house around 10:50 a.m. on Monday. Surveillance footage showed a dark compact SUV pulling into the bishop’s driveway in Hacienda Heights before he was later found dead. Neighbor Marty Hernandez said Medina “always seemed like a odd person.” He was often up late and had a lot of “weird stuff around his pad.” Medina’s front yard was cluttered with an assortment of items and junk, including pipes, bikes, buckets, tools, wires and potted plants. Neighbor Luis Lopez said Medina had quirks, but for the most part seemed like “a good man, your average older man, always talkative.” Medina had lived in the 20400 block of Kenwood Avenue for about five years, Lopez said.

Clara Harter | Reporter Clara covers LAUSD for the LA Daily News in addition to writing about housing policy, homelessness and mental health. She formerly worked as the Torrance/Carson reporter for the Daily Breeze and as a city hall reporter for the Santa Monica Daily Press. She has a B.A. in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies from Columbia University.

Attorney Elliot Blair’s Death In Baja Raises Troubling Questions For American Citizens Abroad

Mexico was supposed to be their “happy place,” where Orange County lawyer Elliot Blair and his wife, Kim Williams, went to celebrate their love on their one-year anniversary. Now his death and her pursuit of answers — and, perhaps, justice — are at the center of an international controversy.

Their romantic getaway evolved into a standoff with Mexican officials when Blair’s broken body was found Jan. 14 below a third-story walkway at the upscale Las Rocas Resort and Spa in Rosarito Beach. Officials in Baja California say Blair died in a drunken fall from an open ledge, while Williams insists he was murdered.

Rosarito police had shaken down the couple for $160 during a traffic stop just a couple hours before Blair’s death, Williams said, and official autopsy photos show scrapes on his legs, as if he had been dragged. Additionally, Blair, 33, had 40 fractures on the back of his skull, which is troubling because he was found face down.

A celebration of life for Blair was held Saturday, Feb. 11, at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove as the controversy about his death persists. His mother, Stella Blair, remembered Blair as a kindhearted soul with a mischievous sense of humor who “touched the lives of so many people.”

Hundreds attend a memorial service for Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Stella Blair, mother of Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, speaks during a memorial service for her son at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Wristbands lay in a basket in the lobby during the memorial service for Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Janet Williams, mother-in-law of Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, speaks during a memorial service for Blair at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A woman holds a program during the memorial service for Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

A photograph of Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, stands in the lobby at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Long-time friends of Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, speak during a memorial service at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Colleagues in the Orange County Public Defender’s Office who worked with Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, gather in front of hundreds during the memorial service for Blair at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Wristbands lay in a basket in the lobby during the memorial service for Elliot Blair, the former Orange County deputy public defender who died recently under mysterious circumstances in Mexico, at the Christ Cathedral Church in Garden Grove on Saturday, February 11, 2023. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Blair’s fate – and his family’s ordeal with Mexican officials – raises hard questions about who can and will intervene on behalf of American citizens who experience an accident – or worse, a death – when they travel to a foreign land.

Baja is a popular vacation spot, but what are Californians’ rights there? What’s the role of the U.S. government when something bad happens to its citizens across the border? And what recourse do Americans have if, as in this case, they feel wronged or victimized?

Congressman intervenes “This (law enforcement investigation) is important not only because of the Blair family, it’s important because as Americans continue to travel to Baja and move to Mexico to retire, we want to make sure we have a process to ensure their safety,” said Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana.

Correa, upon learning the new details in the case, said Thursday that he plans to present Williams’ concerns to the U.S. State Department and the U.S. consulate in Tijuana.

“I want to make sure this information is fully considered in the investigation,” Correa said. “My job is to make sure this horrific tragedy is fully investigated. If it were my family member, I’d expect the same.”

Correa was referring to the family’s statements about the nature of Blair’s wounds and that Rosarito police extorted the couple — both Orange County public defenders — and knew where they were staying. The family is not accusing Rosarito police of being involved in his death, but wants the shakedown, or “mordida,” investigated.

Blair’s family and attorneys have shared several other troubling allegations about his death. The family has said that Mexican authorities tried to pressure them to cremate his body and then went ahead and embalmed it, making an independent blood alcohol test more difficult, if not impossible. The Mexican toxicology screen measured Blair’s blood alcohol level at 0.10, more than California’s limit of 0.08 for driving.

Officials with the Mexican Attorney General’s Office, which conducted the investigation, have been slow to respond to the Southern California News Group regarding the various allegations. Authorities have not, for example, even responded to whether the case remains open or is now closed since it was deemed an “unfortunate accident.”

State Department mostly hands off For its part, the U.S. State Department wrote in an email Thursday that it “does not investigate crimes or potential crimes against U.S. citizens abroad.”

“When a U.S. citizen dies overseas, local authorities are responsible for determining the cause of death and for any possible investigation,” a State Department official wrote.

State Department officials also do not provide legal advice, represent Americans in court, serve as official interpreter or translator or pay citizens’ legal and medical expenses.

The State Department can help crime victims and their families, an official wrote in an email, by notifying the next of kin, providing information on local burials or how to return a body to the United States and assisting with other services, such as providing a list of local lawyers who speak English.

Private attorneys weigh in Alberto Achutegui Lopez, a Rosarito criminal attorney whose clients include American tourists, said U.S. citizens — or any foreigner — have the same rights as Mexican nationals.

“There’s no distinction in our Constitution whether one is a foreigner or Mexican,” he said.

Unlike in the U.S., where the police typically investigate a case, Mexican police are the first to respond to a case but they don’t investigate. That’s up to investigators with the local prosecutor’s office.

If a victim or victim’s family is unhappy with the investigation’s conclusion, they can challenge that before a judge within 10 working days after the case is closed.

The judge’s decision can’t be appealed in state court.

“That’s where the matter ends,” Achutegui Lopez said.

But there’s another constitutional process known as “amparo,” in which the judge’s decision — not the prosecutor’s — can yet be appealed in federal court, although it is uncommon.

David Lopez, a San Antonio attorney who is an expert on Mexican law, said an amparo complaint is made to the federal district court, asking the judge to overturn the state court decision.

He added that it would be unusual for Mexican authorities to suggest cremation and have the body embalmed without the family’s permission, as was done with Blair.

“But it’s Mexico, it happens,” Lopez said.

He also recommended making the case an international cause celebre, working with the media to pressure government officials in the United States and Mexico.

“Evidence of a crime would embarrass the Mexican officials into action,” Lopez said. “They tend to act when there’s media pressure. They’re concerned about tourism, making sure that’s protected.”

Happy memories fade Until Blair’s death, Mexico held most of the couple’s fondest memories. Blair proposed there, had his bachelor party there. It’s where he and Williams were married and where they went to celebrate their anniversary.

In an interview, Williams said Blair’s last day alive was a “magical” one. They ate breakfast near the water, watched the sun set over the waves, got a couple’s massage, ate lobster and danced to live music. They stayed in their favorite room, 308, retiring just before midnight.

Blair took a shower. Williams went to sleep, happy.

And she woke up a widow.

While Williams slept, Blair’s body, dressed in gray boxers, socks and a T-shirt, was found around 12:50 a.m. on the concrete path beneath the walkway outside their room.

Williams said she can no longer sleep in a bed, because of the memory. Her once “happy place” now makes her sad.

“He was my rock,” she said.