McALLEN, Texas— A man who was able to escape a 2007 murder conviction in a scheme that sent a former South Texas prosecutor and judge to prison been captured in India, authorities said today.
Amit Livingston was convicted of murder and sentenced to 23 years in prison in the slaying of his former lover, Hermila Hernandez, a 31-year-old mother of three whose body was left on the beach at South Padre Island in September 2005.
Cameron County Sheriff Omar Lucio on Friday confirmed Livingston’s capture, but details of his arrest were not immediately available. The district attorney scheduled an afternoon news conference in Brownsville. The Valley Morning Star in Harlingen first reported Livingston’s capture.
Livingston, now 46, disappeared after the judge, Abel Limas, took the unusual step of allowing him time to get his affairs in order before reporting to prison. Limas, and the district attorney, Armando Villalobos, were both later convicted in a bribery conspiracy.
The scheme that allowed Livingston to escape featured prominently in the federal corruption trial of Villalobos.
Villalobos had arranged to have a friend and former law partner represent the interests of Hernandez’s three children in a related lawsuit. By agreeing to convict and sentence Livingston on the same day, Limas freed up the $500,000 bond that had been posted for his release before trial. An agreement was reached to use that bond money to settle the lawsuit. The lawyer representing the children took $200,000 of it in fees, passing $80,000 on to Villalobos and $10,000 to Limas.
At Villalobos’ sentencing in February, Hermila Garcia, Hernandez’s mother, told the judge, “(Villalobos) robbed us of justice to sell the murderer his freedom.” Villalobos was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Limas, who pleaded guilty to racketeering, received six years in prison.
Reached before the announcement today, Garcia said the district attorney’s office had invited her to a news conference, but did not tell her what it was about.
“How great if it’s true,” she said.
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