On Wednesday, November 21st, 2018 a San Diego federal judge delayed illegal alien Constantino Banda-Acosta's sentencing hearing a second time in order to review evidence that could impact the amount of jail time for the felon. Banda-Acosta is a Mexican national and a 15-time United States' deportee. He has been in federal custody since May 2017 after he was accused but never convicted of drunk-driving and hitting a 6-year-old American girl before fleeing the scene. Since then, the man has had two hung trials and his case has been dismissed by a federal judge. But, he still is guilty of returning to the country after being removed. Now, the United States Attorney's office requests that the San Diego federal judge view Banda-Acosta as a "danger" because of the evidence surrounding that hit-and-run and give the illegal alien a harsher jail sentence.
Banda-Acosta's case began on May 6th, 2017. Banda-Acosta had been binge drinking all day at his friend's house before heading to his favorite Chula Vista restaurant for a few more drinks. But when he arrived, his estranged wife was present which made the illegal alien angry. This caused some sort of argument, and in what appeared to be an act of love as some politicians would say, Banda-Acosta promptly went to the parking lot and slashed her friend's tires. Another patron walked up and served Banda-Acosta a knuckle sandwich, leaving him bloodied and hurt.
This is where things get tricky. Banda-Acosta's pal and fellow illegal alien, Jorge Adame Ariz, then picked up his sorry excuse for a friend and drove off in Banda-Acosta's truck. Ariz was swerving out of the parking lot, according to witnesses. A few miles down the road, the two men ran a traffic light and hit 6-year-old Lennox Lake who was injured and is still recovering to this day.
Lennox and her family were returning from a family trip to Disney Land. The truck drove off and was found by border patrol two miles away from the scene. But now Banda-Acosta was in the driver's seat, not Ariz. The two men were arrested and scheduled for trial.
Under oath, Ariz testified that he had been in the passenger's seat while leaving the restaurant property but had switched prior to hitting the little boy. Banda-Acosta testified that he had jumped in the driver's seat after the crash occurred.
Over the next year and a half, two different juries voted 8-4 and 7-5 in favor of guilty for Banda-Acosta for drunk driving and fleeing the scene of an accident. Since neither trial strongly proved one way or the other who was driving the car, a federal judge threw the case out. However, Ariz was deported and Banda-Acosta was found guilty of vandalism, battery, and driving without a license.
Banda-Acosta was detained by federal authorities because of his illustrious track-record of ignoring American immigration laws. His sentencing hearing was originally scheduled for October 3rd, but was delayed when the United States attorney requested an evidentiary hearing to take into consideration the events surrounding that hit-and-run.
The federal judge in this case, Ted Moskowitz, said that he was going to have to hear from witnesses and see other evidence, rather than the record of the prior trials because as he said, "I can tell you, a transcript would not cut it...Although you say 15 jurors found the defendant had committed the offense, that means nine did not.”
The hearing had been delayed and was supposed to occur on Wednesday, just before Thanksgiving. However, it was postponed once more as the courts say they need to review evidence to determine if Banda-Acosta actually is a "danger" and would warrant the requested two-year sentencing as opposed to the more traditional six-twelve month sentencing for repeat immigration offenders.
As noted by the San Diego-Tribune, "The evidentiary standard for this hearing is lesser than in a criminal trial. In this instance, the prosecution must show clear and convincing proof — that it is substantially more likely than not to be true. In the criminal trials, the prosecution had to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt — that it is the only logical explanation and none other can be deduced from the evidence."
It is unclear when the next hearing will occur nor how the judge will interview the main witness, Ariz, who has been deported.