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Murder Charge Added Against DUI Suspect with ICE Immigration Hold

VISTA, California — Murder charges have been added to those facing 29-year-old Esteysi Sanchez, the woman accused of killing Jack Ray Tenhulzen while driving with more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream and continuing about a mile down the road with the man lodged in the passenger side of the vehicle before she left.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration hold for Sanchez upon news of the case. The hold “requests the receiving LEA maintain custody of the priority individual for a period not to exceed 48 hours beyond the time when he or she would have otherwise been released from custody.”

During Thursday’s hearing, amended charges were filed against Sanchez to add the charge of murder to a six-charge indictment. The other five counts include: gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, hit and run with death or permanent serious injury, driving under the influence of alcohol causing injury, driving with a measurable blood alcohol causing injury, and unlicensed driver. Sanchez’s blood alcohol level has been reported as hitting 0.18 when measured about two hours after the accident.

Tenhulzen was killed in late June when, according to police, Sanchez drove her vehicle off the road and struck him on the sidewalk. The Oceanside Police Department described Tenhulzen being hurled through the windshield and lodged in the passenger seat. NBC7 local news cited a police report that described Tenhulzen’s leg being detached from his body on impact, and landing on the car’s trunk. According to the police report, Sanchez drove another mile before stopping the vehicle to exit and leave the scene. Law enforcement officers found her at her home about two blocks away. It is believed that she walked there from the vehicle.

Sanchez faces 15 years to life in state prison if convicted. She pleaded not guilty to the six-count indictment on Thursday. She is being held on a $1,500,000 bail. If released, she could be subject to the ICE detainer request.

Details revealed in today’s hearing with regards to a teen child linked to Sanchez suggested that there is a chance that the teen may possibly be a witness in the case. It has not been publicly revealed whether the teen child is a blood relative.

A probable cause hearing in the case has been set for October 26.

At the end of June, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued the following statement regarding this case:

Given the seriousness of the charges lodged against Ms. Sanchez, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has designated this as an important federal interest case. To that end, the agency has submitted a notice of action (Form I-247-X – Request for Voluntary Transfer) to the Vista County Jail requesting to be alerted if or when Ms. Sanchez is slated for release so the agency can take custody to pursue further administrative enforcement action. Relevant databases indicate Sanchez has no prior criminal convictions or immigration enforcement encounters. However, based on a review of her history, ICE believes Ms. Sanchez is subject to removal from the U.S.

A group of victim advocates attended the hearing and held up a Remembrance Project display of Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of foreign nationals who at the time of the deaths were illegally present in the United States.

Also present at the hearing was mother Brenda Sparks, who lost her son Eric Zepeda when an illegal alien hit and killed the young man with a vehicle in September 2011. The illegal alien served no jail time — and, according to Sparks, was driving the day after hitting her son and is still believed to be driving in the U.S.

Sparks had participated in a meeting that Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump held in July 2015 with several families that have lost loved ones at the hands of illegal aliens. In a post-meeting press conference, she was among the family members of victims who were given the podium to tell the story of how she lost her son.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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