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Court ruling delays migrant death case

Citizen Staff

Geovanny Rubio Anaya admits running over and killing an illegal immigrant, but a Supreme Court ruling affects his sentencing.



A U.S. Supreme Court ruling has delayed punishment for a man who admitting running over and killing a teenage illegal immigrant.

Geovanny Rubio Anaya, 27, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to transportation of an illegal alien resulting in death and conspiracy to transport illegal aliens. He later pleaded guilty in Pima County Superior Court to negligent homicide.

Before Anaya could be sentenced in either court, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Washington v. Blakely that judges cannot impose “aggravated” sentences – stiffer terms based on factors that make a crime more serious – unless a jury decides at least one aggravating factor has been proved.

Anaya, who was an illegal immigrant living in Phoenix at the time of Reya-Cruz’s death, was facing life in prison for the federal charges.

In Superior Court, he could have been sentenced to up to eight years. Under the Blakely ruling, Fell would be limited to a maximum six years without a jury empaneled to decide the aggravated eight-year sentence.

More than 100 illegal immigrants were awaiting transport when Reya-Cruz was killed, which would add years under the old sentencing arrangement, said Thomas Jacobs, who represents Anaya in Superior Court.

“The Blakely decision would bring the sentencing down to, essentially, time served,” Jacobs said.

Anaya admitted running over and killing Flora Maria Reya-Cruz, 16, who fell from a pickup truck packed with illegal immigrants Aug. 7, 2003, near the village of Queens Well on the Tohono O’odham Nation.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Fell yesterday postponed sentencing in the state’s case until Sept. 13.

Jacobs said the Blakely decision is having an even greater impact on unresolved cases than the much-publicized Miranda decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court justices ordered police to tell suspects of their rights before arrest.

The Miranda decision did not impact anyone who was arrested before the ruling, Jacobs said. But the Blakely decision is being applied to everyone who has not been sentenced.

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