The U.S. government several years ago tried to deport a registered sex offender who now is accused of murder, but the Cuban government refused to cooperate with immigration officials, immigration officials said Monday.
Ronnie Perez is accused of fatally stabbing a Cape Coral man last month.
Perez, 26, was convicted in the sexual assault of an underage victim in 2001 and released from state prison after serving a 20-month sentence. He was then turned over to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Miami.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials obtained a judge’s signature on a final order of removal against Perez while he was in prison, said ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez.
“We did attempt to remove Perez to Cuba, however the Cuban government refused to issue a travel document,” she said. “We were required by law to release Perez.”
In 2001, the U.S. Supreme court ruled illegal immigrants could not be detained for more than 90 days if there is little chance they will be deported in the foreseeable future.
Perez was living in Cape Coral as an unemployed granite installer when he repeatedly stabbed William Lowell, 36, during an argument May 22, authorities said. He remains in the Lee County Jail on a charge of second-degree homicide.
The Cuban government often refuses to cooperate with U.S. immigration agencies, said Gonzalez, adding that she could not speculate whether Perez’s criminal history influenced the decision to refuse a travel document.
“It is difficult to deport to Cuba, but not impossible,” she said. “The case doesn’t just go away after the person is released. We continue to assess those orders. We don’t drop everything.”
Perez completed a three-year probationary period April 2006 and continued to follow additional release conditions imposed by ICE, which required him to report to the agency’s local detention and removal office, said Gonzalez.
“Although we were required to release Perez, we took an extra step of imposing conditions on his release. He was on an order of supervision and he did follow those orders,” said Gonzalez, who could not provide details regarding Perez’s post-release conditions Monday.
Lowell’s wife, Tanya Lowell, said she was shocked to learn of Perez’s illegal status but declined to comment on the issue. She continues to search for answers in her husband’s death, questioning why her husband was with Perez and what the two men were arguing about that night.
Authorities have remained tight-lipped.
“They’re (CCPD) not telling me anything,” Lowell said Monday. “This is really draining me. I seem to be getting more information from the newspapers.”