Saturday, April 01, 2000

Tips come in search of no-show

Driver skipped homicide trial

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Authorities say numerous tips may be bringing them closer to Jesus Padilla, accused of skipping out on a $200,000 bond. He failed to appear for trial in a double-fatal drunken-driving case.

        Officials have sought the public's help in finding Mr. Padilla, 42, who failed to show up at Butler County Common Pleas Court on Monday.

        • Jesus Moreno Padilla • 42-year-old Hispanic male • 5-feet-10, 250 pounds • Black hair, brown eyes Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Jeff Gebhart, 887-3676, or the sheriff's dispatcher, 887-3010.


        Federal immigration officials are working with the county sheriff's fugitive unit to search for Mr. Padilla, said Cmdr. Art Sauerwein, who heads the unit.

        Although Mr. Padilla is a native of Mexico, Cmdr. Sauerwein said it's doubtful he returned to that country. “We have some fresh information that he's still here,” Cmdr. Sauerwein said. “I think we're right behind him.”

        Mr. Padilla's disappearance means Castle Bail Bonds could be stuck paying his $200,000 bond. It also means more anguish for his alleged victims' families.

        “Until he is found, this case will never be closed — which is very disheartening,” said Peggy Shope of Anderson Township. Her husband, Cecil, 55, was killed along with a former co-worker, Sandra G. Shircliff, 47, of Maineville, in a Sept. 13 head-on collision. “I really want some kind of justice here.”

        Mr. Padilla faces two counts of aggravated vehicular homicide, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, driving with a suspended license and driving while intoxicated. He has at least one prior drunken-driving con viction. The two most serious charges — aggravated vehicular homicide — carry a prison term of one to five years apiece plus a $10,000 fine.

        “We had all been concerned from the beginning that he would not appear because of the severity of the crime,” Mrs. Shope said.

        Mr. Padilla's attorney, John D. Smith of Springboro, said he was surprised that his client didn't show up for trial because he appeared as scheduled for earlier proceedings in the case.

        “He showed up every time, and it's been going on since September,” Mr. Smith said. “It was probably seven prior court appearances he showed up for. He came to court when I told him to.”

        Mr. Padilla reportedly speaks little English although he has been living in Hamilton since about 1991; a Spanish-English interpreter had been hired for his trial.

        He was living here legally, as a resident alien who did drywall work, Cmdr. Sauerwein said.

        Mr. Padilla's driving record shows he was convicted of speeding in 1997 in Kentucky and drunken driving in Hamilton last year.

        Hamilton police records also show he was convicted of a drunken-driving charge in 1996, but no details were given. He also was arrested for failure to appear on a previous court case in Hamilton in 1993.


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