Accused man in the Philippines fights extradition to South Shore
More than four months after his arrest, a former South Lake Tahoe man accused of murdering his wife in 1984 is fighting extradition in the Philippines.
Geronimo Mendoza Zuniga faces one count of murder when he appears before a judge in El Dorado County Superior Court.
Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said it could take several months before Zuniga is transferred to South Lake Tahoe.
“I’m hoping for spring. Spring would be lovely,” Uthe said.
Zuniga was a suspect soon after his wife, Lilian Ocampo Zuniga, was found dead from two dozen stab wounds at a Filipino grocery store she owned along Lake Tahoe Boulevard.
Zuniga quickly fled to the islands. He was arrested in August at the southern island of Mindoro.
Extradition processes in the United States usually take a long time if the person fights leaving the state of arrest to the state where charges are waiting. Governors of the two states must agree on moving the person. Paperwork piles up.
“All through that process you do have some hearing rights,” Uthe said. “They’re very limited.”
If extradition is done on an international level, the process becomes even more complex.
Many countries have their own extradition treaty and understanding of what the treaty states, Uthe said. Mexico, he cited as an example, won’t allow people to leave its land who face the death penalty in the United States.
Six years after the extradition treaty the United States and Philippines agreed upon in 1996, 20 requests were submitted by American law enforcement agencies for people in the Philippines, according to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. In turn, the Philippines requested eight people to be brought back from the United States.
When Zuniga is ready for extradition, U.S. Marshals will likely take him from the Philippines and transfer custody to El Dorado authorities when they touch down on U.S. soil, perhaps Hawaii, Uthe said.
In other news:
— A $250 reward is being offered by Douglas County Secret Witness for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of a person who shattered the front window of Shoreline Snowboards on Kingsbury Grade.
The incident occurred sometime between the night of Dec. 2 and the morning of Dec. 3. Anyone with information on this incident can call (775) 782-7463. Callers do not have to give their name.
– E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com