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National Review
National Review
24 Feb 2024
David Zimmermann


NextImg:Suspect Arrested for Murder of Georgia Nursing Student Confirmed as Illegal Immigrant from Venezuela

Jose Antonio Ibarra, the suspect who was charged with the Thursday murder of 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley on the University of Georgia campus, was confirmed to be an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, according to Fox News.

Ibarra, 26, illegally crossed into El Paso, Texas, in September 2022 and was released from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, according to three ICE and DHS sources cited by Fox News. ICE said it had no official comment on the matter, Fox News reporter Bill Melugin posted on social media Saturday morning.

After police arrested the Venezuelan national on Friday, Ibarra was charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another. Ibarra neither attended UGA as a student nor knew the victim, authorities said.

Ibarra will remain in the Clarke County jail after Judge Donarell Green denied his bond Saturday morning. The murder suspect was present in court.

Riley, who studied nursing at Augusta University on its campus in Athens, Ga., was found dead near a lake at UGA mid-day Thursday. Police located her body after a concerned friend called the police when she didn’t return from a run in the area. Riley graduated from UGA in 2023 and continued her education at Augusta’s College of Nursing in Athens, where both schools are located.

The city of Athens-Clarke County is one of four sanctuary cities in Georgia, allowing illegal immigrants to seek refuge within its borders. Atlanta, Clarkston, and Decatur are also designated as sanctuary cities in the state.

In response to reports that Ibarra is an illegal immigrant living in the U.S., Georgia Republican representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Mike Collins called for the death penalty Friday night.

“Ibarra is an illegal alien and murdered a young woman the age of my own children. Deportation is not enough. He deserves the death penalty,” Greene posted on X.

“Jose Antonio Ibarra would make a great first passenger for the new Pinochet Air,” Collins said, referring to the so-called “death flights” conducted by the secret police of former Chile president Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship.

Notably, the Department of Justice arrested and charged Ibarra’s 29-year-old brother, Diego Ibarra, related to his possession of a fake green card on Friday. According to the DOJ, the elder brother has been arrested multiple times in Athens.