DES MOINES, Iowa — A Guatemalan man who apparently entered the U.S. illegally after being deported twice has been charged with killing an Iowa woman and her two children.
Marvin Oswaldo Escobar-Orellana, 31, made an initial court appearance Thursday in Des Moines, where the judge set his bond at $3 million cash and scheduled his next hearing for July 29. He is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and hasn’t entered a plea.
Escobar-Orellana was arrested Tuesday night in the fatal shootings of 29-year-old Rossibeth Flores-Rodriguez and her two children, 11-year-old Grecia Daniela Alvarado-Flores and 5-year-old Ever Jose Mejia-Flores. Police said Escobar-Orellana had been living at the family’s Des Moines home, but that investigators found no evidence that he had a personal relationship with them, aside from the living arrangement.
Escobar-Orellana called 911 after the shootings, authorities say. In a criminal complaint, police say that according to an unidentified witness, Escobar-Orellana shot Flores-Rodriguez during an argument and then went inside the family’s condo and shot the children, the Des Moines Register reported.
Escobar-Orellana gave investigators a different version of events. He said Flores-Rodriguez killed the children and that he shot her in self-defence, police say in the complaint.
During his hearing, Escobar-Orellana asked the Polk County Associate Judge Becky Goettsch through a Spanish-language interpreter why he was charged with all three killings, when he only killed one person — and that in self-defence. But police say in the complaint that ballistic evidence supports the witness’ account of what happened.
Goettsch assigned the public defender’s office to represent Escobar-Orellana, but the office hadn’t assigned anyone to the case as of late Thursday morning and court records didn’t list an attorney for him.
According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Escobar-Orellana gave police a false name when they arrested him: Marvin Esquivel-Lopez.
Escobar-Orellana was deported in 2010 and again in 2011, said ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer. In 2010, Escobar-Orellana was convicted of illegal entry into the U.S.
His 2011 deportation stemmed from illegal entry to the U.S. near Laredo, Texas, court records said. He was sentenced to 15 days confinement and ordered not to return to the country illegally.
ICE has filed an immigration detainer and administrative arrest warrant with the Polk County Jail, Neudauer said. An immigrant who re-enters the country without authorization after having been previously deported can be charged with a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison.