Illegal Immigrant Suspect in Laken Riley’s Murder Indicted, Accused of Being ‘Peeping Tom’
Illegal Immigrant Suspect in Laken Riley’s Murder Indicted, Accused of Being ‘Peeping Tom’

By Katabella Roberts

The suspect in the February killing of nursing student Laken Riley was indicted by a Georgia grand jury on Tuesday, court records show.

Jose Antonio Ibarra—a 26-year-old from Venezuela who entered the country just 18 months ago—was indicted on 10 charges, according to an indictment filed in the Superior Court of Clarke County.

The charges include three counts of felony murder, one count of malice murder, kidnapping with bodily injury, aggravated assault with intent to rape, aggravated battery, obstruction, tampering with evidence, and “peeping tom” charges.

The “peeping tom” charge relates to another individual at the University of Georgia (UGA) in Athens, Georgia, according to the court documents.

In the indictment, Mr. Ibarra is accused of going to an apartment on UGA’s “University Village Housing Building ‘S’” for “the purpose of becoming a peeping tom in that he did peep through the window and spied upon and invaded the privacy of” another individual at the school on the same day that he allegedly killed Ms. Riley.

The tampering with evidence accusation stems from Mr. Ibarra allegedly having knowingly concealed physical evidence—a jacket and gloves—involved in the alleged murder of Ms. Riley in an attempt to prevent his apprehension by law enforcement officials.

The indictment later accuses Mr. Ibarra of causing blunt-force trauma to Ms. Riley’s head and “asphyxiating her in a manner unknown to jurors,” leading to her death.

‘A Crime of Opportunity’

Ms. Riley, a 22-year-old student at Augusta University, which is also in Athens, Georgia, disappeared following her morning jog around a wooded area at UGA on Feb. 22.

Her body was discovered along her usual route later the same day after a friend reported her missing when she failed to return to her campus.

Police arrested Mr. Ibarra, who lived in an apartment complex at UGA, following a review of campus security footage.

Investigators have said they do not believe Mr. Ibarra knew Ms. Riley, with UGA police Chief Jeffrey Clark previously calling it a “crime of opportunity.”

Release After Illegal Border Crossing

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, Mr. Ibarra was first arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Sept. 8, 2022, after he crossed into the United States near El Paso.

He was paroled and released for further processing, according to ICE. He was arrested by New York police roughly a year later and charged with “acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17” and a motor vehicle license violation, ICE said.

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department also confirmed that Mr. Ibarra had also been arrested in Georgia for shoplifting and had a warrant out for his arrest for failure to appear in court.

According to the United States Attorney’s Office Middle District of Georgia, one of Mr. Ibarra’s brothers, Diego Ibarra, was charged in March for possessing a fraudulent green card.

That case is currently being investigated by multiple agencies including Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the UGA Police Department, and the Clarke County Sheriff’s Office.

If convicted, the suspect faces up to 10 years in prison.

It is immediately clear when Mr. Ibarra will enter pleas for the latest charges.

The Epoch Times has contacted his legal representative for further comment.

‘An Amazing Daughter, Sister, Friend’

Laken Riley’s parents Jason Riley (C) and Allyson Philips attend Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump’s campaign rally at the Forum River Center in Rome, Ga., March 9, 2024. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In the wake of Ms. Riley’s death, her family has described her as “an amazing daughter, sister, friend and overall person in general.”

“Her love for the Lord was exemplified in every aspect of her life. She will be missed every day, but we promise to honor her life moving forward in a very big way,” her family said.

Ms. Riley’s relatives are currently working to launch the “Laken Hope Riley Foundation” that they say will be used to drive homicide awareness and safety for women.

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