Mario César Escobedo Anaya, a 29-year-old defense lawyer in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico was killed in a police chase on February 5, 2002. At the time of the shooting Escobedo Anaya was the defense lawyer for Gustavo Gonzalaz Meza, one of two men accused of murdering eleven women in Ciudad Juárez. The lawyer maintained that his client had been tortured while in custody and forced to make a false confession. Days before his death, Escobedo had announced he would file a criminal complaint against state officials for allegedly kidnapping and torturing his client.
State police claim that they shot in self-defense and that Escobedo Anaya did not pull over when they pursued him in two separate police vehicles. They said Escobedo fired two shots at the officers, who then riddled his vehicle with bullets. Escobedo died at the scene. A passenger in Escobedo Anaya’s vehicle told the press that they did not realize it was the police chasing them until they got out of their vehicle as both police cars were unmarked. [LINK] Police also claimed that they mistook Escobedo Anaya for Francisco Estrada, who allegedly murdered a state police officer. The officers claim that they only opened fire because Escobedo Anaya shot at them first. They have stated that chemical tests have shown that the victim did fire a gun. While the investigation continues the agents have been suspended with pay. The death was investigated but no charges were made against the agents involved. [LINK]
A journalist taking pictures at the scene of the crime shows an unmarked Jeep Grand Cherokee, driven by police, with no bullet holes while the vehicle of Escobedo Anaya shows at least ten. A few hours later the same journalist took pictures of the Jeep outside of the Attorney General’s Office, which clearly show a bullet hole on the hood of the Jeep. The journalist reported that the Jeep was not registered as an official state vehicle but was the private vehicle of Commander Roberto Alejandro Castro Valles [LINK]
“This has all the signs of being a crime aimed at executing a lawyer for his work in exposing the illicit means that state police use to extract confessions,” said Chihuahua Sen. Javier Corral Jurado. State Attorney General Jose Silva told a news conference “we regret the death of this person, who, out of confusion or error, did not stop when told to do so.”
The victim’s father, Mario Escobedo, told local media he blamed the state police for his son’s death, and said his son had received telephone calls threatening to kill him unless he gave up the case. “Ever since we took on the defense of these poor men, we began receiving threats, and they said they were going to leave a little present at our offices,” said the father, who is also a lawyer in Ciudad Juárez.
A few days after the incident his father said that he found a witness to the event that would testify that one of the agents involved in the chase got out of a car and then shot his son, or shot at his son, after the crash. Later, on February 19, Escobedo Salazar, an evidence expert and other lawyers took another look at the vehicle Escobedo Anaya was driving during the chase. Apparent to the entire group was that some of the shots could only have hit the truck after it had crashed when certain parts of the wrecked vehicle became exposed.