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Mark Knapp was killed because of Heriberto Prez-Velasquez, and a very flawed system

Waynetimes.com

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Heriberto Perez-Velasquez, an illegal alien from Guatemala, was arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol May 11, 2007, and removed to his home country later that month. Perez re-entered the country at an unknown date.

The next time Perez-Velasquez surfaced, as far as law enforcement knows,  was when a State Trooper out of Wolcott found Perez-Velasquez behind the wheel of his running 2010 Chevy Cobalt, parked in the middle of Route 89 in the Town of Butler, on Friday (10/18) at 11:25 p.m.

It was discovered that Perez-Velasquez was intoxicated and, as the Trooper attempted to handcuff him, he took off running. He was quickly taken down and charged with Driving While Intoxicated, Aggravated Driving While Intoxicated with a blood alcohol level of .22%, Resisting Arrest and several other vehicle and traffic charges. It was also discovered that he was again in the country illegally. Perez-Velasquez denied he was once deported and said he has lived in the United States since 2012.

During the course of the arrest, Perez-Velasquez was unable to produce a valid identification, and admitted he did not possess a driver’s license. Troopers contacted U.S. Customs and Border Protection in an attempt to identify Perez-Velasquez. CBP could not respond to question Perez-Velasquez, and requested that he be detained. Policy prohibits their agents from conducting interviews to determine legal status of someone who is intoxicated

The State Trooper called the Wayne County District Attorney Mike Calarco directly, who recommended $2500 cash/$5000 bond put on Heriberto R. Perez-Velasquez

State Troopers delivered  Perez-Velasquez to centralized arraignment for pre-arraignment detention, but, under the court’s new policies, he was ineligible for pre-arraignment on those charges. He was released to a sober third party, with appearance tickets for Butler Town Court on November 27.

Wayne County District Attorney Mike Calarco stated that since the new laws technically do not go into effect until January 1st, Heriberto R. Perez-Velasquez should have been arraigned. 

But State Police and the local centralized arraignment courts have been following the new directives in anticipation of the January 1st changes imposed by the State for well over a month. 

Three weeks later, Cayuga County Sheriff’s  Deputies  investigated a fatal motor vehicle accident that occurred at approximately 1:45 PM on Sunday, November 10, on  Route 31 in the Village of Weedsport.

The investigation revealed, that driving the same 2010 Chevy Cobalt, Perez-Velasquez struck a compact tractor from behind, being operated by Mark A. Knapp, age  59, of 2572 Hamilton Street, Weedsport,  who was completely on the south shoulder of  Route 31.

Knapp was ejected and suffered fatal injuries, being pronounced dead at the scene. Perez-Velasquez fled the scene on foot and was apprehended a short distance away by Sheriff’s Office personnel with the assistance of a private citizen.

Perez-Velasquez was charged with Vehicular Manslaughter in the 2nd Degree – Felony; Driving While Intoxicated – Misdemeanor; Leaving the Scene of a Personal Injury Accident – Misdemeanor; Fail to Use Designated Lane – Infraction. He did not have a driver’s license, according to deputies. 

“This is exactly what is going to happen”, said one State Police Trooper, upon hearing of the news of Perez-Velasquez’s Cayuga County arrest. If the arrest does not fit the new “criteria”, certain people will be released. Local courts no longer have the judgement/discretion to put someone, anyone, behind bars.  

All the agencies involved were in a quagmire, pointing fingers in every direction. Basically, the State Trooper followed the rules, Centralized Arraignment followed the rules and even U.S. Border Patrol followed the rules. 

According to District Attorney Calarco, Vehicular Manslaughter is technically a ‘no-bail offense’ and a case must be argued before the court to have bail set.

Perez-Velasquez was arraigned in the Village of Weedsport Court and committed to the Cayuga County Jail in lieu of $50,000 cash/$100,000 bond. His initial court appearance was  waived by defense on Friday for either a plea in the case, or grand jury action. A Federal hold warrant was also issued.

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