Jury selection in Estela Fajardo criminal case

News

Jury selection on Tuesday in the criminal trial of Estela Fajardo, the woman held for three years in jail due to an immigration hold.

She is charged with theft of over $2,500 but under $30,000 for an incident back in January 2016.

Fajardo made headlines after claiming a guard at the Jack Harwell Detention Center sexually abused her last year.

On Tuesday, 62 potential jurors underwent questioning from both the state and the defense.

“As many of you know Mrs. Fajardo almost did not get to see this day due to the DA’s office and judge deciding in December,, without her attorney, to issue a PR bond and hand her over to ICE. Thanks to community outcry, she was benched back here to await this day,” said Hope Mustakim, with Waco Immigrants Alliance.

If Fajardo is found not guilty in the criminal trial, her chances of not getting deported are much greater.

“If she’s able to get in front of an immigration judge, she would be asking for VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) cancellation of removal, if that is approved, she’ll become a permanent resident,” said Anali Looper, Immigration Attorney with American Gatesways.

But, if the jury finds her guilty of theft, it could ruin those chances.

“It’s going to be detrimental to her case if she is found guilty in the criminal trial because what we are asking of ICE is to exercise their discretion so any negative factors in her case including finding guilt in a criminal case will be a negative factor,” said Looper.

Her family and friends are hoping justice will finally be served.

“Our family’s fate is in the hands or jurors and how a situation is presented to them and so like with anything theres a little nervourness but also a lot of relief as well because we’ve been waiting for so long,” said Terry Stevener, Estela Fajardo’s partner.

Testimony in Fajardo’s trial is set to begin Wednesday morning in Judge Ralph Strother’s 19th Circuit Court.

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