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Suspected killer jailed for unrelated charge

As investigators prepare a homicide case, suspect will serve time and face immigration hold

Posted: August 12, 2009 9:41 p.m.
Updated: August 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.
A 22-year-old man accused of strangling his girlfriend was jailed Wednesday on an unrelated charge and placed under an immigration hold while investigators prepare their homicide case.

Edwin Mejia has not yet been charged with the Sunday night slaying of his girlfriend, 18-year-old Bowman High School senior Guadalupe Chaman.

However, Mejia remains the only suspect in her death, said Lt. Dave Coleman of the Los Angeles County sheriff's homicide unit.

Newhall Superior Court Judge Michael E. Knight on Wednesday sentenced Mejia, also known as Edwin Ortiz, to 40 days in county jail for failing to perform community service for a prior offense.

The sentence buys time for investigators and prosecutors, who have only 48 hours after an arrest to either charge a suspect with a crime or release him, Coleman said.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has also placed a hold on Mejia, Coleman and other officials said - an indication the agency plans to begin deportation proceedings after court action and possible prison time.

ICE holds can be placed on illegal immigrants or legal permanent residents. It was not clear Wednesday where Mejia was born nor how long he had been in the United States.

Chaman's death in a mobile home park in the 18500 block of Soledad Canyon Road was the Santa Clarita Valley's second suspected domestic violence killing in less than a month. In mid-July, a Canyon Country man strangled his wife to death and hanged himself as the couple went through a divorce.

The Santa Clarita Valley has mirrored a nationwide surge in domestic violence as the governor has eliminated state funding to 94 shelters, including the one in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Hours before Mejia's court appearance, state Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, joined other local officials to rally for a bill that would restore some funding to the imperiled domestic violence centers.


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