Ramon Alberto Escobar, a native of El Salvador who has been deported six times from the U.S., faced charges in Los Angeles of having bludgeoning three men to death and severely injuring five more in a series of assaults on homeless victims. The 47-year-old convicted burglar was arrested on Monday after allegedly bashing a sleeping man on the head with a pair of bolt-cutters in Santa Monica -- a suburb and beach town in the environs of Los Angeles -- according to authorities

According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, seven other men were attacked in a similar fashion earlier in September. One victim, according to police, was sleeping under a pier after a night of sea fishing. The remaining victims were mostly homeless, including three men bludgeoned with a baseball bat in downtown Los Angeles on September 16. The sleeping man at the pier, and two other victims, died of their injuries. The surviving victims remain in a coma state.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office formally charged Escobar on Wednesday with three counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, as well as four counts of robbery. Escobar faces a minimum sentence of life without parole, if convicted. He is now jailed without bond. An arraignment is due on November 8. No plea was entered.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Escobar was deported to his native El Salvador six times between 1977 and 2011. He already has six felony convictions for burglary and illegal re-entry to the United States. He was confined for five years in a Texas prison for burglary from 1995 to 2000, according to police.

According to CBS, Escobar filed an appeal of his immigration case in 2016. The appeal was granted by federal courts that year, and he was released from ICE custody on an "order of supervision" in January 2017. In November 2017,  Escobar was arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge by Harris County, Texas, authorities. After being convicted of the misdemeanor in May, he remained free albeit for undisclosed reasons. 

In Houston, police have identified Escobar as a "person of interest" in regard to the disappearance of an aunt and uncle with whom he resided. Relatives reported the couple missing in August. Rogelio Escobar (65) and Dina Escobar, 60, were last seen on August 28. Police said that the aunt’s van was found in Galveston, Texas, burned and abandoned. Because police lacked probable cause, police could not detain Escobar after questioning him on August 30. However, Houston law enforcement officers plan to interview Escobar again in California. Foul play is suspected in the disappearance of the elderly couple.

Escobar fled Texas after being questioned in Houston, arriving by car in Los Angeles on Sept. 5. Three days later, the first attack took place. The first attack police linked to him occurred three days later.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, Escobar was probably released by the Board of Immigration Appeals and allowed to remain in the country under ICE supervision by granting him asylum or some other form of relief, such as "withholding of removal" or protection under the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Even persons convicted of serious violent crime can obtain humanitarian relief to remain in the United States. However, unlike asylum, withholding of removal (deportation) does not include a path to citizenship. 
 

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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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