Man accused of killing infant previously deported 5 times, ICE officials say

Jose Agurcia-Avila (Source: SCSO)
Jose Agurcia-Avila (Source: SCSO)(SCSO)
Updated: Apr. 25, 2019 at 5:05 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The man accused of killing an infant boy was previously deported five times, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

ICE officials Jose Agurcia-Avila is an alias name given to Shelby County officials, and the suspect's real name is Carlos Zuniga-Aviles.

He’s accused of killing a four-month-old boy upon learning he was not the child’s father. He faces charges of first-degree murder in perpetration of aggravated child abuse.

Carlos Zuniga-Aviles faced a judge for the first time Thursday morning.

Investigators say the crime took place at an apartment complex on Court Avenue where the 4-month-old boy’s mother called authorities when the child was unresponsive.

The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide due to blunt force trauma.

The child had a fractured skull and fractured rib.

Both the mother and her boyfriend, Zuniga-Aviles, said they had no knowledge how the child was hurt.

More than a week later, the mother of the child told police Zuniga-Aviles confessed to hitting the child in the head.

ICE officials said Zuniga-Aviles was in the country illegally and is a Honduras citizen.

ICE had the following statement on the matter:

“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has lodged an immigration detainer on unlawfully present Honduran national Carlos Zuniga-Aviles AKA Jose Avila-Agurcia following his arrest for murder in Shelby County, Tennessee. ICE will seek to take him into custody to reinstate his removal order following the resolution of the criminal charges he currently faces. Mr. Zuniga-Aviles has been removed from the U.S. five prior times; his most recent removal by ICE to Honduras took place in December 2016. Mr. Zuniga-Aviles subsequently illegally re-entered the U.S. after removal, which is a felony act under federal law.”

He was previously deported back to Honduras in February 2010, January 2011, March 2012, November 2015, and December 2016.

Most recently, he was deported by ICE in Salt Lake County, Utah. He’s also been taken by border patrol in Texas twice and once by ICE in Louisiana. ICE officials said he’s used multiple aliases.

"In terms of his line of rhetoric, this is going to be an example that he would pick up and run with," said Michael Nelson, WMC political analyst.

WMC Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson says it would not be out of the question for this case to land on the desk of President Donald Trump and find its way into his talking points.

Trump has fought throughout his presidency to try and build a wall on the southern border to stop illegal immigration and even threatened weeks to seal the border weeks ago.

"Donald Trump is going to make hay with both of those things. One, he'll say if we had a wall he wouldn't have been able to get in all those times and meanwhile we should be worrying about people getting in because of what they do," said Nelson.

Zuniga-Aviles is set to be back in court May 1.

The district attorney’s office says they are focused on his murder case and deportation should not be an issue while the case is pending.

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