Pinal County sends accused murderer to Mexico after ruling Robertero Fernandez unable to stand trial

Posted at 2:43 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 19:41:47-04

A man suspected of killing another inmate at a private detention facility in Pinal County has been deported to Mexico instead of being released.

Pinal County deputies were called to the Corrections Corporation of America facility in Florence in November 2013. The facility, which contracts to hold prisoners of the U.S. Marshals Service, asked detectives to investigate a fight between two prisoners where one died. 

According to a release from the Pinal County Sheriff's Office, Roberto Fernandez told investigators he killed the other inmate because he liked it in prison and was afraid of being released.

Fernandez, who entered the country illegally, was initially incarcerated for committing a sex crime, authorities said. Deputies said Fernandez committed the murder just before his release on the sex crime conviction to ensure he would not be deported.

Fernandez was charged with first-degree murder in the inmate's death, but a ruling determined he was not competent to stand trial. Pinal County was unable to find a secure mental health facility that would accept him, and a judge ordered Fernandez be released from custody. 

Instead of releasing Fernandez, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu ordered him held and jail staff contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. ICE picked Fernandez up and handed him over to law enforcement in Mexico at the Nogales Port of Entry, according to the release.