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Tucsonan discovers how a severed arm can haunt you (even when it’s not your arm)

freaky cat 2Being young, drunk and stupid can come with lifelong consequences. And those consequences can come even if you weren’t drunk. Just ask a Tucson guy we’ll call Sam.

Twenty-something Sam was an upstanding person: a former soldier, an intelligent and compassionate chap who was aiming for grand things.

“I wanted to be a lawyer to help people, ” he writes in an email. Sam instead found himself on the other side of the law as a defendant in a crime that got plenty of press due to its grisly nature.

The crime involved a severed arm.

Continue reading Tucsonan discovers how a severed arm can haunt you (even when it’s not your arm)

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Illegal alien achieves dream of staying in America: Federal prison term for kicking, throwing rocks at Border Patrol

Jaime Martinez-Garcia, of Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico, was apparently not going to let anything stand in his way of achieving his goal of living in the United States.

The 'American Dream' is tangible for everyone/Thinkstock

Not even deportation. And surely not U.S. Border Patrol agents, whom he reportedly kicked and threw rocks at when they tried to stand in his way.

Martinez-Garcia’s dream of remaining in the U.S. came true this week when a federal judge in Tucson sentenced him to six years in federal prison, according to a news release from the District of Arizona Office of the United States Attorney.

His sentence came after a jury at his August trial found him guilty of two counts of assault on a federal officer and one count of illegal re-entry after deportation.

His success story began with a challenge from the get-go, as he was caught after illegally entering the United States and shuttled back to Mexico May 20, 2009.

Not to be deterred by that annoying thing called deportation, Martinez-Garcia returned to U.S. soil three days later.

But this time, alas, he encountered Border Patrol agents in Potrero Canyon, west of Nogales. When they told him to stop, he instead kicked one of the agents in the leg and ran.

Another agent nearly caught up with Martinez-Garcia when the Mexican man stopped and picked up a big rock. The agent drew his weapon and ordered Martinez-Garcia to put down the rock. So he threw it at the agent, hitting him in the leg.

Martinez-Garcia then picked up another rock and, once again, was ordered to drop it. He did not. The agent fired.

The release did not note where Martinez-Garcia was hit with the bullet, but we know the injury was not life-threatening as he was alive enough to attend his trial and alive enough to receive a federal prison term.

He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge David C. Bury.

Way to go, Martinez-Garcia. Perhaps he can serve as an example to others who try, but fail, to start a new life in this blooming land of opportunity.

The quote:

“U.S. Border Patrol agents patrol hundreds of deserted miles in our vast Southwestern Deserts protecting our border every day,” said U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke. “Just as our citizen’s safety is a priority for them, their safety is a priority of ours.”

The players:

The investigation in this case was conducted by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Border Patrol. The prosecution was handled by Ann DeMarais, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Tucson.


What do you think?

Do you think a prison term is a ploy to stay in the U.S.?

Are prison terms the way to go in such cases?

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Thieves hit new low robbing preschool, stealing student hearing aide equipment: Fourth burglary for Vail campus

While thieves were never at the top of the list of upstanding citizens to begin with, a few went to new lows by robbing a preschool over the Thanksgiving weekend.

Thieves hit Mesquite Elementary, 9455 E. Rita Rd, over the Thanksgiving weekend/submitted photo

A preschool. Isn’t there some kind of moral code against that?

It gets even better. One of the items stolen during the thieves’ two-day haul from Vail’s Mesquite Elementary School and its campus preschool was hearing aide equipment used and owned by a deaf student.

We wonder if taking the proverbial candy from a baby is next on their list.

The thieves first hit Friday night, Nov. 26, by stealing into the elementary school’s classrooms at 9455 E. Rita Road and ripping 15 projectors out of their ceiling mounts as well as ripping off wireless airports, routers and a host of other equipment, a news release from the Vail School District said.

The burglars also rifled through teachers’ cabinets and desks, taking their computers and other items.

That’s the night they hit the campus preschool, running off with a WII Game Console and games that were part of the preschool program.

School officials hired a security team to watch the campus Saturday, but the thieves apparently had a lot of time on their hands.

They simply waited until security personnel finished their night watch and left at 5 a.m. Sunday. Then thieves broke in again.

Thieves hit Mesquite Elementary, 9455 E. Rita Rd, over the Thanksgiving weekend/submitted photo

That time around they pilfered 12 more projectors and another haul of equipment including laptops, routers and airports, as well as did more rummaging through teacher cabinets and desks.

The school does have an alarm system, the release notes, but the system does not cover the classrooms. Perhaps it should, as the Thanksgiving weekend burglary was the fourth time Mesquite Elementary has been hit this year.

With school budgets scraping the bottom of the barrel, however, we wonder where the money would come from to install a more comprehensive security system.

In the meantime, school administration urges anyone with information on these vandals and bandits to contact the school.

School officials are appealing to the community for information about the vandalism and thefts. Please contact Superintendent Baker at 403-8835 or Principal Katherine (Katie) Dabney at 437-3874.


Theives hit Mesquite Elementary, 9455 E. Rita Rd, over the Thanksgiving weekend/submitted photo

What do you think?

Is robbing a preschool as low as you can go?

How should schools protect their equipment?

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FEATURE: One year later man hopeful, not bitter, after beating

Francisco Baires is still recovering, one year later, from a beating with a baseball bat that nearly killed him.

His attacker, Ryan Robert Baker, 28, didn’t get any money during the mugging downtown. He was sentenced Friday to 37 1/2 years in prison for aggravated assault and attempted armed robbery.

Baires, 30, now walks with a cane, can’t remember his dreams and remains partially paralyzed on the left side.

“Compared to the 5 percent chance of survival he had, he’s come a long way,” said Baires’ mother, Pamela Schultz, 56. “But he still has a lot of deficit, a lot that he’ll probably have his whole life. That’s heartbreaking.”

Baires’ message, however, is not one of bitterness or revenge. It’s of hope.

“I just wanted my life back,” Baires said. He’s getting it.

In January, after a five-month hiatus, the anthropology graduate student resumed studies at the University of Arizona and his job at the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Not all was uphill from there. Baires broke his right leg, his good one, on the first day of classes.

“Physically, I’m still pretty gimpy in terms of my walking,” he said. “I’m not that confident on my feet.

“I don’t have the fine movement in my left hand. It’s hard for me to open an envelope. I can’t raise my left arm above my shoulder.

“My left eye had gone in all the way. I had to wear an eye patch. I had to be monitored when I was eating. I couldn’t swallow.”

His memory of the June 26 assault is hazy, although he was told he gave an account of the attack to a police detective not long after it happened.

Baires and his girlfriend at the time were leaving a downtown bar about 2:30 a.m. when Baker jumped out of a car near Stone Avenue and Sixth Street and demanded cash and jewelry.

The couple had none. Baker beat Baires in the head with the bat.

Baires spent several days in a coma, underwent emergency surgery at University Medical Center to stop the bleeding in his brain, and was transferred to Northwest Hospital for a month of intensive rehabilitation.

“I wouldn’t call myself a pessimistic person before this happened,” Baires said, “but I always did see a lot of negativity, a lot of brutality and sadness in humanity. When I came out of this, I was just moved by the human compassion and grace.”

Most of his support comes from his family. His mother, grandfather, sister and others flocked to Arizona after the attack to be by his side.

His mom ended up moving from Florida to Tucson in April, with her husband, Carl, 75, and her mother, Mae Cody, 84.

More support came from friends, fellow students, UA’s anthropology department, nurses at UMC and total strangers who fed his visiting family members and gave them phone cards.

Baires’ support was rounded out by special prayers requested by his friend Kat Rodriguez. She asked Franciscan brothers and a group of religious fire dancers to pray for her friend’s recovery.

“All these different people – Franciscan brothers and indigenous dancers – were praying for me,” Baires said. “I just want to tell people there’s a grace that’s overwhelming.”

His mom shares his upbeat attitude, emphasizing it was never about revenge against Baker, but getting him off the streets.

“He’ll go right from prison to an old age home,” Baires said.

“I never ask why,” he said of life’s circumstances, “because I won’t get an answer. Some things we’re not going to know.

“I’d rather spend time counting my blessings.”


This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2008, issue of the Tucson Citizen newspaper.

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Legal and illegal aliens keep on coming: Massive job loss in U.S. does not slow immigration, study says

Woe is America. In the past 10 years we’ve experienced two recessions, an overall loss of 1 million jobs – and an influx of 13.1 million legal and illegal aliens streaming across the borders.

File photo from illegal alien bust with 97 packed in a truck

Somehow the math is not working here.

Take the United States back to the 1990s, which came with an overall growth of 21 million new jobs – yet an influx of fewer immigrants, at 12.1 million.

The verdict? Just because the country dries up, sours up and seems to have lost that shimmying sheen of the American Dream, people keep on coming.

These fun facts – and more – are in a report from the Center for Immigration Studies, which analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s March Current Population Survey.

Yes, we know. Pro-immigration folks are none too fond of the Center for Immigration Studies, calling it slanted and anti-human rights for illegal aliens.

Let’s continue anyway.

Census results are not yet available, but the Current Population Survey, also known as the Annual Social and Economic Supplement, gives us a glimpse into population trends.

The big immigration trend continues, the Center argues, because immigration is not based solely on job availability.

This does not mean the economy is irrelevant to immigration levels, the report notes. Rather it means that many factors in addition to the economy impact the flow new immigrants into the country.

Such factors as the desire to be with relatives, political freedom, lower levels of official corruption, and the generosity of American taxpayer-funded public services are all among the reasons people come to the United States.

These things do not change during a recession or even during a prolonged period of relatively weak economic growth, like the decade just completed.

Other fascinating findings from the study include:

– Among the states with the largest proportional increase in their immigrant populations over the last decade are Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Alaska, Mississippi, Arkansas, Washington, North Carolina, Maryland, and Nebraska.

– In 2008 and 2009, 2.4 million new immigrants (legal and illegal) settled in the United States, even though 8.2 million jobs were lost over the same period.

– The new data indicate that, without a change in U.S. immigration policy, the level of new immigration can remain high even in the face of massive job losses.

Not looking good for the math ever working here.

Some may immediately go on the defense, saying the numbers are all wrong and to look at 43 other studies from 62 other agencies that go and prove immigration is down or job loss never reached an overall 1 million or that Tennessee really did not experience a large proportional increase in immigrants.

Others may continue the crusade that immigration to America is a basic human right, regardless if its done through the proper channels or not and regardless of its impact on current U.S. citizens.

But no matter how much arguing is done until we’re all blue in the face, one solid observation remains the same – Woe is America.

Note on terminology: In its report, the Center for Immigration Studies uses the term “immigrant” to mean all persons living in this country who were not U.S. citizens at birth.


What do you think?

Has the past decade been woeful or joyful for you?

Have you lost a job due to the recession?

Have you found yourself in the process?