Federal hearing delayed for Diego Ibarra, brother of alleged killer Jose Ibarra

Diego Ibarra
Diego Ibarra

The brother of the alleged killer of a nursing student on the campus of the University of Georgia made a brief court appearance Monday in a federal magistrate courtroom in Macon, but the hearing did not materialize.

The bail hearing was pushed to 10 a.m. Thursday.

Key legal issues between defense attorneys and federal prosecutors necessitated the delay, according to WMAZ in Macon.

Diego Ibarra, 29, and his brother, Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, the murder suspect, are both described by federal authorities as undocumented immigrants from Venezuela. Diego Ibarra is charged with having a fake green card. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Diego Ibarra was arrested the same day as his brother on Feb. 23, but police have not linked him to the Feb. 22 slaying of Laken Hope Riley, the 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student slain while jogging on the UGA intramural field complex. The brothers lived in an apartment complex off South Milledge Avenue.

WMAZ reported that Diego Ibarra entered the courtroom shackled at the waist and legs and wearing an orange Butts County inmate outfit.

Prior to the hearing, federal prosecutors filed notice they would request the defendant be denied bond and remain in federal custody citing that his future presence in court could not be assured and the safety of others was a concern.

According to the federal complaint, Homeland Security Investigations was made aware of Diego Ibarra’s presence in the U.S. on Feb. 23 after his arrest by an Athens-Clarke officer assisting in the investigation of Riley’s death.

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Diego Ibarra's criminal history

Since entering the U.S., federal agents said Diego Ibarra has been arrested three times by Athens officers. On Sept. 25, 2023, he was arrested for DUI and driving without a license. In that case, police reported he was stopped for driving 80 mph in a 40 mph zone. He had to be forced out of the vehicle and handcuffed, according to the report.

The officer determined Ibarra had been drinking, did not speak English, and had symptoms of being under the influence.

On Oct. 27, 2023, he and his brother, Jose Ibarra, were arrested for shoplifting at Walmart on Lexington Road as both were seen stuffing items into a book bag. After their apprehension, Diego was found with T-shirts, men’s shorts, and a jacket.

On Dec. 8, 2023, he was detained again for shoplifting at Walmart after a loss prevention officer observed him put two T-shirts in a bag and leaving without paying. The officer advised Ibarra of a pending warrant against him for failing to appear in court for the DUI charge. He was also barred from Walmart after this second incident.

Diego Ibarra also had contact with police on Sept. 26, 2023, after a 29-year-old woman called police with a domestic complaint that stemmed from an argument in which she said he took her phone, according to the report.

She described a struggle between the two. Under questioning by police, Ibarra said the woman ignored him and that’s why he took her phone and that she bit him during the struggle, according to the report.

The officer reported he was unable to determine the predominant aggressor in the dispute, so neither was arrested. However, the officer reported he told the woman about the process to get a temporary restraining order against Ibarra.

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This article originally appeared on Athens Banner-Herald: Diego Ibarra federal hearing delayed in Macon, Georgia