— Sehnert returned to his cell, sure he was in for at least a five-year Mexican prison sentence. "At 9:00 at night," he continues, "they take me out again. And Luis Estrada is there. He says, in very good English, 'They're giving me just a minute to talk to you alone, though they're not supposed to. Here's what we're going to do. I've looked at the case report...' I asked about his fee, and he told me, 'Don't worry about that now. I'm on the consulate's list. I'm not going to screw you.' I asked him how much bail will be. He says, 'Well, I can't guarantee that you'll get bail, but it will probably be $5000 or $6000. It might be more, but hopefully we'll get it for that.'"

Sehnert was surprised at how accommodating the federal officials were to Estrada. They let them speak alone for 30 minutes when they hadn't even let the attorney in the lime-green suit in the door. He also noted that the attorney chatted with the district attorney and his executive secretary about all sorts of things in a very familiar manner. Before Sehnert returned to his cell, Estrada explained a point of Mexican gun law. "He said they had to wait for a ballistics expert to determine whether it was a .22 or not. Apparently, in Mexico you can have up to a .38 pistol and you still qualify for bail. Above a .38, or if you have any kind of special bullet even in a smaller caliber, you don't qualify for bail."

Sehnert was called back out of his cell at 11:00 p.m., Monday, the 22nd of April, to meet with Estrada again. "He told me the ballistics test had revealed that the bullets did have some kind of special head. I had no idea. I had bought the ones the guy at the gun store told me to get. Then he said, 'I'm not supposed to be able to because of the bullets you had in the gun, but I'm going to get you bail.' "

Through Estrada, Sehnert was able to contact a longtime friend in his home town of Redlands who said he would get the bail money together. The next order of business was a reading of the municipal police report with the executive secretary. "Well, the police report was completely falsified," he recalls. "They changed both the time and place. They had to, because the truth would have placed me somewhere very different from where this chase started and they would have to explain why they were in the Zona Rio in the first place. They said they saw me speeding in the Zona Rio at about 12:30. They put on their lights, but I took off for the border, where they finally stopped me. They falsified the time, they falsified the place, they falsified the reason. Then they said they searched me and they found the gun. Basically, that's their report."

Sehnert then gave his own version of the story to the secretary who typed it into her computer. "Then she helped my attorney make my story better.' "

Though he hoped the bail would be posted that evening, Sehnert had to spend another night incarcerated in Mexico. "As it turns out, my friend Henry wasn't able to wire the money until noon on Tuesday. So my attorney drove over to the San Ysidro Western Union, picked up the money, drove back, and paid the bail. They gave me my wallet and my stuff back. There was $40 in my wallet. They had taken $60 plus the 4000 pesos from it. And at this point, it's fairly late in the day. We can't even retrieve my truck. The attorney helped me with that. He said, 'I'll help you find it tomorrow,' which he did. I asked him, as we were leaving the place, how much the bail was. He said, 'It was $6000, plus I charged you $2000.' But I was never given a receipt, and I have no idea whether the bail was $6000 and he took $2000, or the bail was $2000 and he took $6000. I might never know. But even though I'm out $8000, I feel like I have a new lease on life. I can go to the bathroom anytime I want to, I can sleep in my own bed, I can walk outside if I want to. I'm relishing my freedom."

More from SDReader

More from the web

Comments

Sign in to comment