Deputy testifies before Senate committee on immigration followin - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Deputy testifies before Senate committee on immigration following murder of Grant County woman

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GRANT COUNTY, Wash. -

On Wednesday morning, Grant County Chief Deputy Ryan Rectenwald presented testimony before a U.S. Senate committee in Washington, D.C. Rectenwald spoke to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee during a hearing on the effects of border security and lax immigration enforcement on American communities.

During Deputy Rectenwald's testimony, he spoke extensively about the death of Jill Sundberg, who was found dead along Old Vantage Highway in December of last year. Following an investigation, five arrests were made in the case about a month later. All of the suspects were in the country illegally, and at least one had been previously deported.

The Grant County Sheriff's Department released a transcript Deputy Rectenwald's testimony Wednesday. The Sheriff's Office reports that the testimony includes disturbing details of the murder of Jill Sundberg, but that the family is "aware and supportive" that these details would be included in the testimony.

Deputy Rectenwald explained to the committee what he saw when he arrived on the murder scene, describing it as "straight out of a horror movie." Deputy Rectenwald testified that Sundberg was shot 11 times in the head, neck and shoulder area.

"We later learned she was kidnapped by five men after an argument at a party. She was forced into a vehicle with those five men, driven ten miles to this remote area, and was executed. The fear and brutality this woman faced during that ten-mile drive, and in the moments prior to her death will forever haunt the case investigators," the deputy testified. 

 He told the committee that through their investigation they arrested five men that were in the country illegally.

"The fact that these suspects were here illegally isn’t my point. It’s that the shooter was still in the U.S. after being convicted of crimes, and previously deported. So, how did this happen? " Rectenwald asks.

"It turns out the alleged shooter had been previously deported in May 2007 after his first felony conviction. He then illegally re-entered our county and in June 2013, he was arrested on new felony assault charges in Grant County. He served out his sentence and in January 2014 he was released to Immigration again. Prior to his deportation hearing, he posted $8,000 cash bail in March 2014. He never returned for his hearing. No failure to appear warrants were ever issued. He was then later re-arrested in September 2015 in our county on a new domestic violence assault charge."

Deputy Rectenwald reports that no federal warrants were issued for the alleged shooter's arrest, so despite having "numerous opportunities" to bring him back into custody, he was never arrested.

"It makes sense that after being convicted of a felony, you should not be allowed to bail out of your immigration hearing. If you abscond, warrants should be issued and ICE and local law enforcement should be able to pick you up.'

While Deputy Rectenwald told the committee that it may present both administrative and budgetary concerns, "[W]e need easier access to the bad guys. This isn’t about illegal immigrants who reside in our communities peacefully alongside us," Deputy Rectenwald said. "Allowing us these tools would help us distinguish between the truly law abiding and those whose existence is to harm through violence or drug distribution via enabling policies and practices." 

"Although I can empathize with the discussion about ripping families apart when it comes to immigration enforcement, I can assure you the Sundberg family has been ripped apart because of the lack of enforcement of current immigration laws."

 Deputy Rectenwald wrapped up his brief testimony to the committee by commending law enforcement who worked on the Sundberg investigation.

"Lastly, I would like to publicly commend the hard work our men and women put into this complex investigation. They live by an unwritten code that dictates they will never stop, they will never quit, and they will always work for the ones who can no longer speak for themselves. Their efforts have truly made our community a far safer place to live."

In a statement Wednesday, Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones said he was proud of Deputy Rectenwald's testimony.

"I am extremely proud of Chief Deputy Rectenwald for his testimony on this very important issue. The Grant County Sheriff’s Office continues to be great partners with our federal counterparts to ensure the safety and security of Grant County residents."

Full testimony from the committee can be seen here: https://www.hsgac.senate.gov/templates/watch.cfm?id=008AE93B-5056-A066-608F-4DC7CFD851D0 

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