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Woman living in U.S. illegally accused of killing a mother and abducting her baby, officials say

Yesenia Sesmas (Image source: KWCH-TV)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A Dallas woman accused of killing a Wichita mother and taking her baby was in the country illegally when she was released from a Kansas jail this summer before immigration officials had a chance to request she be held, law enforcement authorities said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not receive the July 25 list of arrests from the Sedgwick County sheriff's office showing Yesenia Sesmas' name on it until the following day, and by that time she had already been released from local custody, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said Wednesday. The agency would have asked that she be detained if Sesmas, a Mexican national, had still been in jail, he said.

Sesmas posted bond and was released less than 24 hours after her arrest in that case, said Col. Brenda Dietzman, undersheriff for the Sedgwick County sheriff's office.

Even if ICE had made the request, it is not clear that the county would have honored it. Sedgwick County Sheriff Jeff Easter announced in 2014 that the jail would no longer honor ICE requests to hold inmates unless the agency presents a warrant or court order requiring them to hold an inmate in custody longer. The policy change stemmed from a 3rd Circuit appeals court ruling finding a Pennsylvania jail unjustly held a man on suspicion he might be in the country unlawfully after he posted bail. Several jails across the country have refused to automatically honor ICE requests after the American Civil Liberties Union warned they could be sued.

Now if Sedgwick County gets a request to hold an inmate, jail officials call the agency about 2 to 3 hours before that person is released, and tell ICE "if you want them come get them," Dietzman said.

Sedgwick County officials say they have no record of an ICE request to hold Sesmas when she was in custody in Kansas in the summer for allegedly threatening another Wichita woman with a knife and trying to hold that woman's two daughters for ransom.

Sesmas never showed up for her August court hearing in that case and was a fugitive until her arrest Saturday during a pre-dawn raid at her Dallas home following last week's killing of another Wichita woman, Laura Abarca-Nogueda, and the abduction of Abarca-Nogueda's 6-day-old daughter, Sophia. The girl was found safe and reunited with family.

ICE said it asked the Dallas jail to detain Sesmas following her recent arrest.

Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett said Wednesday he does not know whether his office was aware of Sesmas' immigration case at the time of the earlier kidnapping case, but said he believed that an ICE hold meant a person can't get out of jail.

Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski

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