Wiping away tears of both joy and sorrow, Rosa Hernandez stood Tuesday in front of the hair salon where her daughter was gunned down 11 months ago and proclaimed that justice had been served.
Salt Lake City police and the U.S. Marshals Office announced today that the long search for 20-year-old Miguel Mateos-Martinez in connection with the shooting death of Faviola Hernandez ended Sunday with the arrest of Martinez near Ensenada, Mexico.
"I'm just happy now," Rosa Hernandez said in a soft voice. "It is happy and sad at the same time. I realize she is never coming back."
On Aug. 15, 2007, Faviola Hernandez, the owner of Bushwacker Salon, 1329 W. 1300 South, was shot and killed during a robbery of her store, even though she fully cooperated with the demands of the intruders.
Shortly after the shooting, the get-away driver, Jesus Alarcon Jimenez, 22, was arrested. Jimenez was later convicted in 3rd District Court on murder and aggravated robbery charges. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Prosecutors say Martinez was the gunman in the salon shooting and issued a $1 million arrest warrant on a charge of aggravated murder.
In March, Martinez was placed on the U.S. Marshals' 15 Most Wanted Fugitives list, the first time a suspect from Utah has ever been named to the file.
For months, Salt Lake Police Chief Chris Burbank said, thousands of leads were followed, adding that tracking someone placed on the Top 15 fugitive list comes with great responsibility.
That police work paid off Sunday when Martinez was spotted by authorities at a house near where he was staying and arrested without incident, said Randy Anderson, head of the U.S. Marshals Office in Utah.
No details were available Tuesday about what Martinez has been doing while he was on the run or if he had been in Ensenada the entire time.
Martinez was taken to a jail in Mexico City where he remained Tuesday. Prosecutors say they will now begin the long process of having him extradited to the United States, which could take up to six months. Potentially making the process a little harder is the fact that a charge of aggravated murder was filed against Martinez, making him potentially eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Mexico, however, has a 30-year policy of denying extradition unless assurances are made that a defendant will not receive the death penalty.
"We want him back. We will do whatever it takes to get him back," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller.
Friends and family stood in front of Faviola's salon Tuesday, many wearing T-shirts with Hernandez's picture saying "In Loving Memory of ... " Others held large framed photographs of her.
Family members said they knew the arrest wouldn't bring Faviola back, but it would do a lot to help bring closure.
"In the future, people will know they can't go to Mexico to get away," said Adolfo Hernandez, Faviola's uncle.
Friends and family say they never gave up hope that one day Martinez would be brought to justice.
"I'm just glad they got the guy. The family's been going through a lot," said family friend Damon Madina.
Rosa Hernandez said it just sunk in recently that her daughter was never coming back. She said it seemed before that Faviloa was just on vacation and coming home soon. Her possessions are still in the house where she left them and where Rosa can see them and touch them.
"I remember her saying, 'I love you. I (will) call you. I'll be right back.' I'm still waiting for that call. But I know it's not going to happen," Rosa Hernandez said.
Salt Lake City Councilman Van Turner, who represents the Glendale area, called the murder a "senseless act" that changed the community."The family experienced much grief during this time. They hope to get closure today," he said. "The family never once gave up."
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