A Smith County judge said Friday he will allow more time for attorneys to decide whether a Tyler man accused of capital murder was expelled from Mexico or extradited after he was arrested — something that will help determine if the death penalty is sought.
Rick Hagan, the defense attorney for Simon Lopez, 27, said he needed more time to read a letter from the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico, where Lopez was arrested in July, to make sure Lopez was deported from Mexico and not extradited. Hagan said in court that it is a violation of the extradition treaty between the U.S. and Mexico for Mexico to extradite someone who might face the death penalty.
Judge Kerry Russell, of the 7th District Court, said he would schedule another hearing for July 16 for the District Attorney’s Office to announce its decision. Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham said he had no objection to the request from Hagan.
Simon Lopez, 27, has been charged with capital murder in the death of 18-month-old Jeremy Silva in July. Lopez was babysitting Silva and another child while their mother, his girlfriend, was at work, according to the U.S. Marshals Service. He reportedly contacted the boy’s aunt and told her he was not breathing. Silva was dropped off with the aunt, where he was taken to the emergency room and pronounced dead, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
The boy’s mother, Emma Torres, 19, also has been charged with capital murder, but the District Attorney’s Office is not seeking the death penalty for her. Both are being held in the Smith County Jail on $2 million bond each. Ms. Torres also appeared in court on Friday and will be back May 25 for more scheduling dates to be set.
Hagan explained that he wanted a better understanding of how his client had come into the U.S. from Mexico.
“If there’s no record of him being extradited, he did not voluntarily come back to this country,” Hagan said to Russell. The defense attorney said he recently learned that U.S. Marshals learned his client was in Mexico from someone incarcerated in Virginia.
Bingham said on Friday that Lopez is not a Mexican national.
“Mexican officials contacted U.S. Marshals who flew to Mexico to pick up Lopez — Smith County detectives picked him up in Houston and drove him back to Smith County.”
In an April 25 hearing, Bingham said in court that the Mexican Attorney General’s Office agreed it would not be a violation of the Mexican extradition treaty with the U.S. to seek the death penalty for Simon Lopez, 27. Bingham said in court that Lopez was expelled from Mexico and had not been extradited.
In August, Bingham said his office might seek the death penalty for Lopez. Bingham said earlier there is a treaty between the United States and Mexico about extraditions in capital cases in which the death penalty may be applied. Mexico will not extradite someone to the United States if they could receive the death penalty, even if they are a U.S. citizen, Bingham had said. Lopez is a U.S. citizen.
Russell said a trial for Lopez will be set for early 2013.
There is a restrictive and protective order now in place, which prevents any further comments on the cases, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Autopsy results released in November revealed Silva died from heart damage resulting from blunt force trauma to the chest, according to information from police.
Doctors also noticed other signs of abuse, including strangulation, broken ribs and severe bruising, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.