Husband wants justice as wife's accused killer walks free in Mexico

by: Aaron Diamant Updated:

Maria Reyes was killed in Oct. 2010.

CUMMING, Ga. - A Channel 2 Investigation found a local fugitive charged with murder, hiding in plain sight in Mexico.

The shore of Lake Lanier is where Jesus Murillo Bravo finds peace, and prays for justice.

His mind is focused on Maria Reyes, his wife of 15 years and Jorge Montiel, the man charged with her death.

"Every year, I remember what happened October 13," Bravo said.

Oct. 13, 2010, Bravo came home to find his now-former Forsyth County home surrounded by Cumming police. That is when detectives told him his wife was dead.

Reyes was robbed, raped and killed, police said. Investigators identified Montiel as their suspect within days, but Montiel fled for Mexico before police could arrest him.

"They pursued all the leads they could as fast as they could, and I don't believe there was any way we could have picked him up before he left," Sgt. Brian Zimbard of the Cumming Police Department told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant.

Still, a Forsyth County grand jury indicted Montiel, but what bothers Bravo the most is that Montiel is living free.

"Jorge Montiel is living in Mexico, free," Bravo told Diamant.

Diamant worked with Bravo for weeks running down intelligence from contacts in Mexico, tracking Montiel to the City of Tulancingo, a couple of hours outside Mexico City.

It's a dangerous place, plagued by crime and cartels.

Diamant hired a private investigator who shot pictures of the neighborhood where Bravo said Montiel lives openly.

"From the different things that people have told me, he is there. They've seen him there and he is cocky enough to say whoever wants to find him can catch him there. He dares to say that," Bravo said.

That is why the FBI is now urging the Forsyth County District Attorney to step up and go after Montiel.

"Yes, we want him back badly," Special Agent Stephen Emmett of the FBI said.

Emmett said the FBI's hands are tied. While the FBI has a federal fugitive warrant out on Montiel, the Forsyth County DA has yet to apply for a provisional arrest warrant.

That is the key document sent through diplomatic channels to the Mexican authorities.

"It would allow this individual to be arrested and brought back to the United States where he would face trial," Emmett said.

Diamant tried for over a month to reach Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn to sit down for an on-camera interview to explain why Penn had not applied for that provisional warrant.

Penn told Diamant by phone her office is swamped with other cases. Her main concern is the price tag, thousands of dollars in translation and transportation costs.

"I think you're sending the wrong message," attorney Dan Conaway said. "You're creating, in a way, a haven for criminality within your community."

"Usually, criminal cases for the prosecution fall apart the longer you wait," Conaway said.


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Bravo wants Penn to put herself in his shoes.

"Think about the damage he has caused me and my children. If she has compassion or heart she would do something for my family," Bravo said.

Penn told Diamant her office has limited resources and it all comes down to priorities.

Penn said her office still plans to pursue the case, but could not give a time frame.


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