New questions in rape case tied to man held for illegal entry to U.S.

(KXAN Photo)
(KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin immigration lawyer says the suspect in a reported sexual assault has a federal case that raises questions about the official account of the man’s background.

A man in federal prison for illegally entering the country is now charged with a violent sexual assault in Austin after DNA linked him to the case.

Jose Carranza-Rubio, 34, is currently imprisoned at the Reeves Correctional Institution in Pecos, Texas for illegal entry, but a sexual assault charge against the Honduran citizen was filed in Travis County on Thursday morning. According to the arrest warrant, a woman was walking near the Conoco gas station at 7200 North I-35 on May 24, 2015 when she was grabbed and dragged to a wooden area behind the service station. The victim told police the man took her to a mattress on the ground where he beat her and sexually assaulted her before a passerby heard her screams and chased after the man.

KXAN News asked immigration attorney Tony Diaz to examine the public information about the case. Diaz said a few things stick out. For example, he has found no previous criminal history–outside of the federal immigration issue–in Carranza-Rubio’s past. KXAN News has also found no indication of previous crimes, aside from illegal entry to the United States. Diaz also pointed out that if the suspect had been previously deported, as a federal spokesperson indicated, Carranza-Rubio would have faced an illegal re-entry charge, rather than illegal entry. He also would have likely faced a sentence longer than the 180-day sentence he received if the court new about previous incidents, Diaz said.

“So there are some things like this in this case that I want to caution everybody about. That is, let’s be patient and let’s see how justice works,” said Diaz. “I know the system works.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick also highlighted the case Friday, calling for border security.

Travis County Assistant District Attorney John Lopez said Austin police have a hold on Carranza-Rubio that should keep him from being deported before facing the sexual assault charge in Travis County.

In November, a swab from the victim’s Sexual Assault Forensic Exam matched Carranza-Rubio, who was already in federal prison-where he’s been since Sept. 30, 2015. He is expected to be released on Feb. 20, 2016. Austin police detectives said Carranza-Rubio admitted to living in Austin for six months, but denied assaulting anyone and offered no explanation about the DNA match.

According to federal court documents, on Aug. 25, 2015, Carranza-Rubio was arrested near Eagle Pass for entering the United States illegally.

Carranza-Rubio’s arrest in August wasn’t his first run-in with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to spokesperson for the agency Dennis Smith. Smith said records show Border Patrol agents have stopped or taken Carranza-Rubio into custody five times since 2005. He said records also indicated multiple deportations to Honduras.

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