Mexican judge orders Marine to remain in jail

Judge receives letter from members of Congress

SAN DIEGO - A Mexican judge refused to dismiss weapons charges against Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi and ordered him back to jail Wednesday evening.

During a lengthy evidentiary hearing in Tijuana, Tahmooressi was able to tell his story to a judge.

Before the hearing, Tahmooressi's mother, Jill, made one brief statement, declaring her faith in the new lawyer, Fernando Benitez.

"I'm confident with Mr. Benitez and his ability to defend Andrew appropriately," she said.

Three months ago, Tahmooressi drove his pickup truck across the border and was arrested. He had three guns and a cache of ammunition in the truck. It is illegal to carry weapons into Mexico. 

Tahmooressi said he did not mean to and that he had become confused and was trying to turn around.

A U.S. Marine who had been decorated for two tours in Afghanistan, Tahmooressi had just come to San Diego to seek treatment for PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – and was living out of that truck.

He spent the past 100 days in a jail cell as various lawmakers have tried to intervene diplomatically, thus far unsuccessfully.

A letter was just sent to the judge by San Diego Rep. Duncan Hunter and Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska. It was co-signed by 74 members of Congress.

The text of the letter follows below:

The Honorable Víctor Octavio Luna Escobedo
Juez Sexto de Distrito de Procedimientos Penales Federales XV Circuito
Ave Paseo De Los Heroes #10540 6TO. Piso, Zona Rio
Tijuana, Baja California 22010

Dear Judge Escobedo:

We appreciate your careful consideration of the Andrew Tahmooressi case. As Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we stand behind Andrew and believe the specific circumstances of this case require Andrew to be returned to the U.S. immediately.

We believe the evidence supports Andrew’s claim that he mistakenly entered into Mexico. One of the most compelling pieces of evidence is a 911 call Andrew made at the border checkpoint, where he stated that he was unaware of his location. It’s also important to take into account that Andrew was new to the San Diego area, without permanent housing, and had many of his possessions in his car. Like many of those new to the area, he was unfamiliar with the often confusing roads along the border and was unable to turn around before entering Mexico.

Andrew’s character and service should also be taken into account. Andrew is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran who served his country honorably, enduring two combat tours in Afghanistan, and earning a promotion to Sergeant on the battlefield—a high honor for any service member. Further, he saved lives on the battlefield in several instances, showing both courage and commitment to his fellow Marines. Andrew suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of his time in combat and moved to the San Diego area to seek treatment. Regrettably, his incarceration prevents him from getting the treatment that he deserves. The Marine Corps has stood by Andrew, and has pledged its assistance to resolve this case.

As this case moves forward, we urge you to consider the specific circumstances of this case, and hope that you will arrive at the same conclusion we have—that Andrew should be reunited with his family as soon as possible.

Duncan Hunter, Member of Congress

Lee Terry, Member of Congress

Tahmooressi's attorney said that he was not surprised by Wednesday's outcome, and says things are still on the right track. He will be back in court for another evidentiary hearing in August.

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