Alabama Murder Investigation Reveals New Immigration Law Makes Latinos More Vulnerable to Attacks

Posted on December 31, 2011


“If you rob a Mexican, they probably won’t go to the police because they might get deported.”

That was allegedly the logic that three murder suspects believed when they set out to rob three Latino immigrant men and ended up killing one and paralyzing another. However, it didn’t work – and all three are currently behind bars, awaiting trial for capital murder.

Travis Golden, 25, Crystal Shaw, 28, and Fredrick Odom, 40, were arrested earlier this week for breaking into a home and killing Albino Rodriguez and paralyzing Calixto Garcia. Fox 10 reported that eyewitness testimony accuses Odom of firing the fatal shots. However, due to the nature of the crime, all three are being held and have been denied bail.

According to Fox News Latino, Rodriguez and Garcia might hahe been targeted because the suspects believed they were illegal and less likely to go to the cops.

“We have had cases where perpetrators targeted Hispanic individuals thinking they wouldn’t report [crime] because they’re afraid of being deported,”  said Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Arthur. “This certainly has that flavor.”

Several news reports claim that Shaw personally knew the men who were attacked, which might have been a factor in the decision to carry out the robbery-turned murder. However, Fox News Latino reports that Alabama’s tough new immigration law allows crime victims to stay in the country, despite their undocumented status:

While federal and local authorities have said they fear Hispanics might hesitate to report crimes because of Alabama’s new crackdown on illegal immigration, the law includes a section that temporarily exempts crime victims from its provisions even if they are in the country illegally.

Most local juridictions around the country that have some sort of immigration law include provisions that protect witnesses and victims in crimes from being reported to immigration officials. Law enforcement authorities usually push for such provisions, expressing concern that immigration laws could generate more crime — and jeopardize criminal investigations — if people in immigrant communities fear turning to police.
Meanwhile, news reports of the incident so far have appeared to be more sympathetic towards the suspects and nearly silent about the victims. WKRG reported on how Crystal Shaw was a good girl who got in over her head with drugs and fell in with the wrong crowd:

In another Fox 10 article, Odom, whom witnesses claim fired the shots that killed one victim and paralyzed another, is given nice words from the uncle.
We caught up with Morsco Odom, an uncle of Frederick Odom. He said the crime has caused him pain, too.”I just left the hospital last night because of a bad headache; got back this morning. It really hurt me. I love him,” Odom said. “Everybody does things. But like I said, when he was around me, he didn’t do those things.”Things that if proven in court, could mean they’ll face the death penalty.
So far, nothing has been reported on the victims, but David Matheny, the Assistant District Attorney, insinuated that his office might try to make an example of this case to let people know that immigrants will not be more exposed to crime.
“We do not want defendants to think that they are going to get away with committing crimes against people just because of their legal status,” Matheny told Fox 10.