Laken Riley case: Man charged in UGA campus killing won’t seek bond

Jose Antonio Ibarra charged with murder in death of college nursing student.
Jose Antonio Ibarra was booked into the Clarke County Jail in the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley, who was running on the University of Georgia campus when she was killed, officials said.

Credit: Clarke County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Clarke County Sheriff's Office

Jose Antonio Ibarra was booked into the Clarke County Jail in the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley, who was running on the University of Georgia campus when she was killed, officials said.

The suspect charged in the death of nursing student Laken Hope Riley on the University of Georgia campus has decided not to seek bond, court filings show.

Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, is being held at the Athens-Clarke County jail on charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another. He has not yet entered a plea to the charges.

Riley’s body was discovered by UGA police at the university’s intramural fields shortly before 1 p.m. on Thursday after having gone for a run that morning.

Ibarra was arrested on Friday and first appeared in court Saturday morning, when a magistrate judge said he was not authorized to set bond in the case. The public defenders representing Ibarra told a superior court judge on Wednesday that he’s decided not to apply for bond.

“Defendant elects not to seek bond at this time,” Ibarra’s lawyers wrote in a court filing. “Defendant requests the court withhold scheduling a bail hearing absent a bond motion from the defense.”

Ibarra’s arrest warrant states that he caused Riley “great bodily harm with an object” with the intent to murder her. It accuses Ibarra of “disfiguring her skull” and “dragging the victim to a secluded area.”

Riley’s homicide has turned into a new flashpoint in the national debate over immigration and border policies.

Ibarra’s brother, Diego Jose Ibarra, is also in custody at the Athens-Clarke County jail. He was arrested Friday and charged with possessing a fake green card. He is due to appear in a federal court in Macon on Monday.

The brothers, from Venezuela, separately entered the United States illegally, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Jose Antonio Ibarra was apprehended by border patrol agents near El Paso, Texas on Sept. 8, 2022, and then paroled and released for further processing. Authorities have not commented on his more recent immigration status.

Diego Jose Ibarra (Athens-Clarke County Sheriff's Office)

Credit: cour

icon to expand image

Credit: cour

Diego Ibarra, 28, first entered the United States illegally on April 3, 2023, near Eagle Pass, Texas, ICE said Thursday. The agency said he was returned to Mexico the same day, but then reentered the United States illegally on April 30, 2023, near El Paso, Texas. Authorities previously had said he was 29 years old.

Diego Ibarra was arrested and enrolled into ICE’s Alternatives to Detention program on May 11, 2023, and released from custody the following day, the agency said.

“On May 25, 2023, he was removed from ATD and listed as an absconder from the program after GPS abnormalities,” ICE said in a statement provided to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He has several arrests in 2023 by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department where ICE detainers were not honored.”

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz fielded calls for his resignation Wednesday by a small group of angry protestors. They alleged Riley’s death was the result of Athens being a so-called sanctuary city that provides safe haven for undocumented immigrants. Girtz said responsibility for Riley’s death “rests solely upon the perpetrator” and that there had been no legislation from his government creating a sanctuary city.

ICE said Thursday that it has requested advanced notification of Diego Ibarra’s release from custody.

As of September 2023, ICE was monitoring 5,235 noncitizens, including 635 Venezuelans, from its Atlanta field office, which covers Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, as part of its Alternatives to Detention program. The vast majority of participants were reporting compliance through a smartphone app with facial matching technology, while 325 had ankle monitors and 285 were required to report via telephone call.