07/13/06 — Greenwood driver slated for deportation

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Greenwood driver slated for deportation

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on July 13, 2006 1:56 PM

Wilder Fidelmar Mejia Alvarado, whose sport utility vehicle struck and critically injured two eighth-grade students last fall as they crossed East Ash Street on their way to school, is being deported to his native Guatemala, probation officials say.

"You can say he was picked up for deportation," said Kenneth King, the assistant judicial district manager for the N.C. Probation and Parole Service in Duplin County.

King said he did not know if Mejia Alvarado, a 24-year-old illegal alien, was still in the custody of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, officers or had been deported, but he said the defendant was picked up May 23.

"I'm trying to get information on where he might be in custody -- if he is still in custody -- but we've been given the run-around. ... We can't seem to find anyone who knows the answer. ... But in the meantime, we're trying to get numbers and contacts so we can determine where this person is."

King said he did not consider the situation a stalemate, but he said his office is trying to contact people who Mejia Alvarado knew in addition to federal authorities.

King said he knew ICE officers have been overwhelmed with a flood of illegal aliens and noted that administrative officials might have been on vacation, but he added that other detainees have changed their appearance in two weeks and disappeared.

"It's difficult for us, because we don't know the language," he said.

Mejia Alvarado, who speaks only Spanish, had been released from the Wayne County Jail after serving two consecutive 75-day sentences. But while he was awaiting deportation by Nov. 1, he was ordered to be placed under electronic house arrest while on probation in Duplin County.

King said ICE officials decided that because of the nature of the crime, Mejia Alvarado needed to be deported quickly.

"We have had no contact with him recently," King said. "We had contact with him before his release. They made the decision after seeing the category of the crime and said it was a deplorable offense."

King said Mejia Alvarado, who lived on Bennett's Bridge Road in Duplin County, was taken to Charlotte, where he would be held until he was deported.

"He was here a short time," said King's supervisor, Thurman Turner, the judicial district manager.

District Attorney Branny Vickory, who prosecuted the case in Wayne County Superior Court, said the report by Duplin probation officers confirmed "what the ICE people told me a couple of weeks ago. They indicated that they had rethought the thing and would pick him up and deport him."

The two boys -- Mackenzie Wessels and Carson Thomas -- were struck and injured at about 7:30 a.m. Nov. 18, 2005, as they used the green walk light to cross the street between Meadow Lane Elementary and Greenwood Middle schools.

The two 14-year-olds who lived at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base were taken to Wayne Memorial Hospital and transferred to Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville. Wessels was released after about a week and attended Mejia Alvarado's sentencing. Thomas remained for two and a half months before returning home, and now, although he still cannot speak, receives therapy.

Mejia Alvarado, who, investigators said, used as many as six aliases and had a fake Mexican driver's license, pleaded guilty April 3 to two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon while inflicting serious injury. He could not post a $200,000 secured bond after his arrest last year, was credited with 136 days served while awaiting sentencing and spent only 14 more days in jail. He also was sentenced to a suspended term of 20 to 33 months and 48 months of supervised probation.

When it appeared that Mejia Alvarado would have to report to immigration officials on his own in Atlanta, Vickory was outraged. He called it "absurdity reaching the highest levels." Then, noting that immigration officials were overwhelmed by the number of illegal aliens, he said the situation "shines a spotlight on how ineffective our immigration policy is at this time."

The driver had given the name of Luis Delgado Jesus when he was arrested at the scene by police Officer Steven Powers. At the time, he was charged only with four minor traffic offenses. The felony assault charges were added later, and the traffic violations were dismissed as part of a plea bargain.