Illegal immigrant charged with four murders in Nevada highlights border security issue

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) denounced President Donald Trump’s Thursday decision to declare a national emergency to fund what the House leader says is “a wall we don’t need, to address a crisis that doesn’t exist.” But recent high-profile murders involving illegal immigrants, particularly the killings of four people in Nevada, highlight the real need for better security.

The illegally-present suspect in the Nevada case will be tried immediately for the murders of two women and an elderly couple during the first weeks of 2019. Prosecutors agreed to break with legal procedure by trying 20-year-old Wilber Martinez-Guzman with four counts of murder in Reno before prosecuting the Salvadoran national with burglary and other related charges in Carson City, where he was arrested.

“Generally, the jurisdiction that catches a defendant proceeds with its prosecution first,” explained Carson City District Attorney Jason Woodbury. “When we have a way to make the process a little easier on people victimized by a crime, and when those people tell us they want the murder case to go first, we absolutely listen and do our best to honor those wishes,” he said.

Justice in Nevada

The killings started in Gardnerville, 50 miles outside of Reno, when 56-year-old Connie Koontz was discovered dead in her home on Jan. 10. Days later, on Jan. 13,  Sophia Renken was found dead in her home under similar circumstances.

The FBI was called in to assist the investigation after 81-year-old Gerald David and his wife, 80-year-old Sharon David, were found fatally shot in their Reno home on Jan. 16. Police received a tip linking a stolen Apple watch to the murders, and they were able to link Martinez-Guzman to the stolen merchandise after he tried to use his Apple account to access the device’s features.

In police custody, Martinez-Guzman admitted that he stole jewelry and a .22 caliber handgun from the David family home, where he was employed as a landscaper last summer. Two weeks after the theft, he returned to the elderly couple’s home and used their own pistol to kill them.

Martinez-Guzman remains in a Carson City jail on $500,000 bail. He will be transported to a Reno facility to await trial for the serial murders.

The great debate

The Nevada killing spree could affect national immigration policy as lawmakers grapple over funds to build a wall and step up security along the southern border. President Donald Trump referenced the murders in a Jan. 21 tweet, arguing that they served as justification to begin construction on a wall to halt the flow of drugs and dangerous criminals across the U.S-Mexico border.

To honor the victims’ families and underscore the need for improved border security, Trump invited the Davids’ daughter Debra Bissell, granddaughter Heather Armstrong, and great-granddaughter Madison Armstrong as guests to his State of the Union speech.

“Just three weeks ago, Debra’s parents Gerald and Sharon were burglarized and shot to death in their Reno, Nevada, home by an illegal alien,” Trump said, introducing his guests. “No one should ever have to suffer the horrible heartache they have had to endure.”

Although open borders advocates frequently cite statistics suggesting that immigrants commit fewer crimes than naturalized citizens, a recent study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) determines that illegal aliens are more than three times as likely to end up incarcerated than their citizen counterparts.

Despite making up just 3.3 percent of the U.S. population, a 2018 report from the Government Accountability Office found that 20 percent of U.S. inmates are illegal aliens. Those figures have actually declined since 2011, when undocumented immigrants made up 25 percent of prison populations.

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