CHICAGO (JGL) — An alleged Filipino illegal alien was sentenced to a life in prison after pleading guilty Tuesday (Feb. 17) to three counts of murder and one count of attempted murder before the start of his jury trial before Judge Barbara J. Ansted of the Common Pleas Court in Fremont, Ohio.
Igmidio “Roger” Mista, 34, was accused of the killing of a police officer, a U.S. Army veteran and a musician and a serious injury to the policeman’s cousin inside Last Call Bar in Fremont last March.
Judge Ansted immediately sentenced Mista to a life sentence. He will be eligible for parole in 44 years.
Mista’s lawyer, David Klucas, could not be reached for comment.
In exchange of his plea, the public prosecutor dropped one count of felonious assault and one count of possessing a firearm in a bar.
The surprise plea of Mista stunned the prosecution and witnesses, who came prepared for nearly a weeklong trial.
Killed inside the bar were Andy Chavez, an off-duty Elmore, Ohio police officer, who was celebrating his 26th birthday on the night of the murder; bar musician, Ramiro Sanchez, 28; and U.S. Army veteran Daniel Ramirez, 24. Chavez’s cousin, Ramiro “Junior” Arreola, 25, was also shot but survived.
There had been preliminary discussions of a plea deal but it would have carried harsher sentence. But before the jury selection began, Klucas and Sandusky County Assistant Prosecutor Lorrain Croy reached a deal that the victims’ families approved.
Mista would turn 78 before he will be eligible for parole.
The plea did not explain why Mista went on a shooting rampage.
Some 41 witnesses had lined up testify. Evidence included a sample of Mista’s blood left at the scene and a video surveillance from inside the Last Call Bar.
Shortly after the shooting, the Manila-born Mista, speaking in his native Tagalog, told Philippine Deputy Consul General Romulo Victor M. Israel, Jr. over the phone that he did not know who did the shooting. “Nor did he mention hitting someone. He simply insisted he did not commit the crime, that he was just a customer and he left when a commotion erupted in the bar and gunshots were fired.”
IMMIGRATION DETAINER ISSUED TO MISTA
Mista was arrested the day after a shooting incident early Sunday morning (March 9, 2014) inside Last Call Bar in Fremont that resulted in the death of Chavez, an off-duty police officer celebrating a belated birthday, and two other men, Sanchez, and Ramirez, and injuring another, Arreola.
Municipal Court Judge Bob Hart of Fremont charged Mista with three counts of murder and ordered Mista held without bond following opposition mounted by Fremont City Prosecutor Jim Melle against the release of Mista, who described Mista a flight risk, saying Mista had used relatives to evade authorities in the past and he is not a U. S. citizen.
Israel said the staff of Department of Homeland Security contacted the Philippine Consulate about the arrest and detention of Mista. He was allowed to (make a recorded) call to Sandusky County Jail and speak to Mista.
Israel said based on the Consulate’s records, Mista “applied for passport renewal in 2011 (valid until 2016) and he indicated his status as immigrant.”
Israel said the DHS officer “did mention that he is out of status.” He added Mista was a tourist when he came to the U.S. When he renewed his passport in the Consulate in 2011, Mista indicated in his application that his status was an immigrant.”
The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Detroit, Michigan had lodged an immigration detainer against Mista, which tells Mista’s detention officer to notify ICE “at the conclusion of proceedings against Mista.”
Khaalid Walls, Public Affairs Officer of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Detroit, Michigan, had clarified that “by issuing a detainer, ICE requests that a law enforcement agency notify ICE before releasing an alien and maintain custody of the subject for a period not to exceed 48 hours, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, to allow ICE to assume custody. Detainers are critical to ICE achieving its mission to identify and remove criminal aliens. “
It was reported that Mista got into an argument with Chavez’s unidentified wife and ended up punching her in the face.
Ramiro Arreola was reportedly quoted as saying, “A little scuffle broke out, he felt he needed to pull a gun out. Just started shooting everybody, innocent bystanders.”
The victim’s uncle, Manuel Chavez, was quoted as saying, “My nephew jumped on this guy.” Then, Mista left the bar but came back and started shooting.
If Mista turned out to be an illegal alien, he will be deported to the Philippines after serving his sentence