Mexican Extradited to Houston for Murder of Tina Davila

Houston mother of five, Tina Davila (picured), was stabbed to death in 2008 when Timoteo Rios tried to hijack her SUV, but she refused to give up the keys because her 4-month-old baby was in the vehicle. The killer was identified by the surveillance tapes from the store near the crime and he quickly fled to Mexico.

He had been arrested earlier for marijuana possession but had not been deported. See my blog from the time, “Why’d They Let Him Go?” Previously Arrested Illegal Alien Kills Woman In Carjacking Attempt.

Now, more than two years later, the Mexican government has extradited Rios to be tried in Houston. Unfortunately, the extradition come with the usual Mexican requirement that the death penalty not be pursued by the prosecution.

The murder deprived five children of their loving mom, and that kind of pain never goes away. The kids are relieved that some justice may be at hand, but terrible memories are returning. The clip following is from KIAH-TV in Houston, Murder Suspect Faces Extradition.

Illegal immigrant extradited in Houston mom’s death, Houston Chronicle Blog, December 13, 2010

Tina Davila’s youngest child, Kaylynn, was just 4 months old, a chubby-cheeked baby strapped snugly into a car seat, when her mother was stabbed to death fighting off a carjacker in the spring of 2008.

On Saturday, Davila’s family will get together to celebrate Kaylynn’s third birthday. For Davila’s older children, the birthday is a reminder of how much time has passed since their mother was buried at a cemetery on the city’s east side.

Finally this weekend, her family members saw the main suspect in her murder, 26-year-old Timoteo Rios, extradited to Houston. And as grateful as they are that Rios will have to answer for Davila’s death, the extradition has reopened old wounds.

“I guess it just brings back too much pain and memories. I think my kids were having a hard time,” said Eric Matt, 43, Davila’s ex-husband and father of her three eldest children. “Each one of them, it makes them angry. It makes them wonder why. With the holidays and everything, it just makes it really hard.”

Davila’s eldest daughter, 20-year-old Patricia Matt, said the extradition — one year and four months after Rios’ arrest in Mexico — brings some relief, but also has dredged up difficult memories. She said she recently saw the video of her mother’s April 2008 murder, captured on a surveillance camera outside a Harris County cell phone store, on the news again.

The video shows Davila struggling with a suspect for her car keys before she’s stabbed. Witnesses said she screamed, “My baby, my baby!” before stumbling into the store and collapsing. The carjackers left without taking the SUV, and Kaylynn was unharmed.

“We have to go through all of these feelings again,” said Patricia Matt, a nursing student who attends San Jacinto Community College. “We’re pretty much reliving what we first felt.”

After Rios was charged with capital murder and fled to Mexico, his case became a high-profile example of problems with Immigration and Customs Enforcement screening at Harris County’s jails.

Rios, an illegal immigrant with a criminal record, had admitted to local law enforcement twice before the slaying that he was in the country illegally, but had not been deported, according to arrest and immigration records.

“I just don’t think it’s fair that you can come here without papers and get all of these tickets” but not be deported, Eric Matt said. “I don’t understand why they didn’t do anything way back then.

Since spring 2008, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and ICE have taken steps to increase screening at the local jail, which was the first site in the nation to participate in Secure Communities, a federal program that automatically checks inmates’ fingerprints against an immigration database. The county also participates in ICE’s controversial 287(g) program, which deputizes local law enforcement to help ICE agents identify and detain suspected illegal immigrants in detention.

Rios fled to Mexico after the killing and was captured in August 2009 in Guadalajara, Mexico. Harris County Homicide Sgt. Mark Reynolds said Rios was living in a 8-foot by 15-foot room in Mexico making cinderblock bricks for a living, and was surprised when Mexican federal police took him into custody. The negotiations for Rios’ return to Houston took more than a year — common in cases involving Mexican nationals — included an agreement that he would not face the death penalty.

Harris County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Donna Hawkins said so far this year, three suspects from Mexico have been extradited to Harris County. That’s up from two in 2009 and zero in 2008.

Eric Matt said he’s disappointed the death penalty is off the table under the terms of Rios’ extradition agreement.

“He should get what he deserves. That’s up to a court to decide. But for him to plea bargain to come back without the death penalty, I think that’s wrong,” Eric Matt said.

Patricia Matt said Rios should get the death penalty, “but if this is the only way we can get him over here, I guess I’m OK with it.”

Reynolds, one of the main detectives on Davila’s case, said he was concerned about whether detectives would be able to capture Rios after he fled to Mexico in 2008.

“I was apprehensive,” Reynolds said. “I thought we would get some kind of conclusion on it, whether it be him dying or being captured. I was just hoping it would be while I was still here, still around.”

Patricia Matt said dealing with her mother’s death has gotten a little easier as time has passed, but she still misses her.

“Some days are harder than others, like if I’m having a bad day, or if I’m just thinking about her a lot,” she said.

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