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Immigration judge still reviewing Garcia case


No ruling yet on whether woman who hit children in Forest Grove will return for community service

by: WEB PHOTO - Nearly 90 people have donated more than $3,500 to the online fund at youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/support-cinthya-garcia-cisneros/144398. The fundraising goal is $5,000.Cinthya Garcia-Cisneros went before an immigration judge in Tacoma last Wednesday, March 5, requesting short-term release from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility that is holding her so she can return to Washington County and carry out 250 hours of community service and three years of probation.

That was Garcia’s sentence after she was convicted of “failing to perform duties of a driver,” a class B felony, when she accidentally and unknowingly struck and killed two sisters playing in a pile of leaves — then failed to return to the scene a short while later when she learned what had happened.

According Bridget Cooke, executive director of the local nonprofit Adelante Mujeres, the judge did not immediately rule on the case because Garcia’s immigration attorney, Courtney Carter, submitted numerous documents on her behalf and the judge wanted time to review them.

Carter expected the judge to rule within a week after the hearing, said Cooke, who had no word on a ruling as of Tuesday.

Cooke was one of nearly 20 people who drove up from Oregon to support Garcia at the hearing, including friends, family members, four of her former teachers and her younger brother, Mario, who was with Garcia in the car at the time of the accident and had urged her to drive through the giant leaf pile for fun.

Also there, Cooke said, was a pastor from Sonrise Church, which the sisters attended with their parents in Forest Grove.

None of them testified, although Carter read off the names of everyone who was there and explained their relationship to Garcia.

Carter submitted immigration documents, a psychological analysis and numerous letters of support from schoolmates, community members, a neighbor, teachers and more, Cooke said.

One letter urging temporary release came from Jane Samuels, fianceé of Randal Eckerdt — the father of 6-year-old Anna Dieter-Eckerdt, who was killed in the accident — and friend to Anna’s mother, Susan Dieter-Eckerdt, and to Tom Robinson, Susan’s husband and father of the accident’s other victim, Abigail Robinson, 11.

Tersia Theel, Abigail’s mother, submitted a copy of the letter she wrote for Garcia’s Jan. 31 sentencing hearing in Washington County, as well as a copy of a lengthy comment she posted on the News-Times website following publication of a Feb. 5 column (“Time and Chance Haunt Us All”).

Arguing against Garcia’s release was a government attorney who claimed that Garcia would be a “flight risk” if released, Cooke said.

If Garcia is released, she will likely face a bail fee as high as $10,000 or $20,000, Carter has said. Although her father has been working hard to save the money for that fee, Adelante has started a fund that could help if necessary.

The fundraising goal is $5,000 and as of Tuesday morning, 87 supporters had donated a total of $3,559, many leaving comments such as:

“We really hope you do not get deported. Your remorse, intelligence and young age make you a promising member of this community.”

“Cinthya I know you have a lot to offer the community and I wish you well!”

“Have faith in God, he moves mountains. You and your family are in our prayers.”

“I wish you and your family peace.”

“Todos necesitamos una segunda oportunidad!” (Everyone needs a second chance!)

“Cinthya Garcia was a very special and wonderful student at Joseph Gale Elementary when I was secretary at that school for 19 years. I wish her the best always — sending this with love.”

“We are Tom and Susan’s friends and neighbors, and have been worried about you ever since the accident. You are in our prayers and we wish you the very best.”

“We support Cinthya with love as well as a donation.”

“I do hope you can remain in Oregon. Whatever happens, live well, and forgive others, including yourself, as you have been forgiven by the parents.”

“Not alone.”

To donate, go to youcaring.com/help-a-neighbor/support-cinthya-garcia-cisneros/144398.