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Jose Ibarra Accused of 'Disfiguring' Laken Riley's Skull in Arrest Affidavit

The 22-year-old was found dead on the campus of the University of Georgia on the afternoon of Feb. 22

Jose Ibarra Accused of 'Disfiguring' Laken Riley's Skull in Arrest Affidavit

New details added to the arrest affidavit for Jose Antonio Ibarra give new insight into his behavior during the attack and Laken Riley’s final moments.

Riley, a nursing student at Augusta University, was found dead just before 1 P.M. on the campus of the University of Georgia shortly after being reported missing after she did not return from a run on Feb. 22. The 22-year-old was declared deceased at the scene — a forested area near Lake Herrick — by paramedics.

Ibarra, an illegal immigrant who was released after being arrested for unlawfully entering the United States in September 2022, was identified by police who reviewed campus security footage. The 26-year-old Venezuelan national was arrested by law enforcement in Georgia on Feb. 23. His immigration status was confirmed by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Ibarra is facing multiple felony charges for malice murder, murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, aggravated battery and concealing the death of another. He has also been charged with one misdemeanor count of physically hindering a 911 call.

According to the affidavit, Ibarra “maliciously [caused] bodily harm to another by seriously disfiguring her body or a member thereof by disfiguring her skull." He allegedly concealed Riley’s death by “dragging the victim to a secluded area.” Of the aggravated assault charge, Ibarra is said to have assaulted “with the intent to murder by causing great bodily harm with an object.” 

Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson told the media that Riley died of blunt force trauma, per Online Athens. An autopsy was performed at the State Crime Lab on Feb. 23. 

The prosecution believes Ibarra acted with “malice aforethought, either expressed or implied,” to cause the death of another human being. 

Athens District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez announced on Feb. 26 that she plans to enlist a special prosecutor to oversee the murder trial.

"I want to express my gratitude to my colleagues from across Georgia who have supported our circuit during this tragic event at our flagship institution," Gonzalez said in a statement, per Fox5. "We will not allow this or any other case to be used for political gain. Our top priority is the safety of every citizen, and we are fully committed to ensuring that justice is served for the loss of every life."

Riley and her family are set to be represented by Shelia Ross, who previously worked for the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said Riley’s “tragic death struck the hearts of Georgians everywhere and has rightfully sparked national outrage.” He called on President Joe Biden to release information about illegal border crossing and asylum claim processing procedures.

“As I have said many times before: every state is now a border state because of Joe Biden's inaction, and today I am again demanding answers and information from the Biden Administration that will help us protect our citizens when the federal government will not,” Kemp said in a Feb. 24 statement.

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