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Feds believe suspect fled the US with help from the Saudi Kingdom
The parents of a 15-year-old Oregon girl killed in a hit-and-run say they're "not very hopeful" about seeing justice for her death, as federal authorities believe the suspect accused of killing her fled the U.S. with help from his home country of Saudi Arabia.
What are the details?
Fallon Smart died after being struck by a speeding car while crossing a street in southeast Portland in August 2016. The Oregonian reported that she was crossing legally in front of stopped traffic when a driver "illegally swerved into the left-turn lane and hit her at 55 to 60 mph."
The driver was Saudi Arabian national Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, 21, who fled the scene but later returned, police said. A grand jury indicted him with first-degree manslaughter, driving with a suspended license, and other charges, and he was detained on $1 million bond.
Following Noorah's arrest, the Saudi consulate provided him with the $100,000 bail money required for his release and retained counsel for his defense. The suspect — who was in the U.S. on a student visa but not enrolled in classes at the time he allegedly struck Smart — was considered a flight risk, but since he was able to pony up the funds, he was released on partial house arrest and allowed to resume his studies at Portland Community College.
As a condition of his release, Noorah was ordered to turn his driver's license and passport over to the Department of Homeland Security.
Two weeks before the trial was set to begin in 2017, Noorah was picked up at his host family's home in a black GMC Yukon XL, and according to GPS tracking on the suspect's ankle monitor, driven to Portland Sand & Gravel company.
That's where Noorah cut off his ankle monitor and left it in the parking lot and disappeared. Investigators launched a search for the suspect including the use of cadaver dogs, but to no avail. Thirteen months later, the Saudi Arabian government contacted DHS to inform them that Noorah was back in the kingdom.
Federal authorities believe the Saudi government provided Noorah with a fake passport and likely a private jet ride to escape the U.S.
So, now what?
Fallon's parents, Fawn Lengvenis and Seth Smart are speaking out about the loss of their daughter and their loss of faith in the justice system, the Daily Mail reported. The two divorced when Fallon was young and have both remarried, but sat down together with the Oregonian in their first public interview since their daughter's death.
Describing the ordeal, Lengvenis said, "It almost feels like you're reading the plot of an intrigue novel. It's hard to believe that it's part of your reality."
The grieving mother explained that at first, "I just had this faith that the legal system would operate in the way I thought it would have." But after finding out that the Saudi government had helped the suspect in their daughter's death escape justice and there's no extradition agreement between the two nations, that faith has deteriorated.
Lengvenis hopes that by sharing their story it might increase the chances that Noorah could be returned to the U.S. to face trial. But Smart isn't so sure.
"I'm not very hopeful," he told the publication. "I don't think Mr. Noorah is coming back to the United States."
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