Girl kidnapped last summer killed in hit-and-run
4-year-old taken to Mexico after '05 slayings
The Arizona Republic
Jan. 23, 2006 12:00 AM
A 4-year-old girl was killed in a hit-and-run Sunday near Queen Creek, the latest tragedy in a series of events that began with a triple murder and her kidnapping last summer.
Jennifer Cervantes was struck by a pickup truck about 1:30 p.m. outside a mini-mart near Pecos Road and San Tan Boulevard, her mother just feet away.
Authorities said the driver, a 72-year-old man, pulled into an adjacent lot and surveyed the damage to his truck before looking at the child and driving off. Gilberto Olaquez was arrested at a nearby home after witnesses followed his vehicle and called police.
The girl suffered massive head and neck injuries and died at Maricopa Medical Center.
Six months earlier, Jennifer - also called Jenny - and her then-18-month-old brother, Bryan, were kidnapped by their father and taken to Mexico.
Their mother, Isabel Acosta, 29, returned from celebrating her birthday July 11 to find her parents and 17-year-old brother slain, her children gone.
Police said Acosta's ex-boyfriend, Rodrigo Cervantes Zavala, 35, shot her parents and brother - Saul Lopez Acosta, 63, Trinidad Castro Acosta, 51, and Jesus Manuel Acosta, 17 - one by one when they refused to give him the children.
Acosta had said at the time that she worried for Jenny and Bryan's safety: Cervantes Zavala once threatened to kill the kids and himself.
A week later, police arrested Cervantes Zavala in Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, and the unharmed children were reunited with their mother. Images of that moment showed Jenny in a blue party dress, clinging to an emotional Acosta.
It took months for Mexican officials to extradite Cervantes Zavala.
He was returned to the United States in October after Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas agreed to waive both the death penalty and a life sentence without possibility of parole. Mexican government officials do not extradite their citizens accused in death-penalty cases.
Cervantes Zavala is being held in isolation at a Maricopa County jail. Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Sunday that a staff member would notify him of his daughter's death.
At the time of Sunday's accident, Jenny was playing with a broom in the dusty parking lot of Super Carnicera El Torito while her mother sold dishes and pots for extra income. The truck swerved into the parking lot and struck her, Arpaio said.
Witnesses surrounded Jen- ny and tried to help as her mother, described by officials as hysterical, hovered nearby. Even after she left with paramedics, remnants of rescue efforts littered the area. Her broom lay beneath a parked vehicle.
Olaquez was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail late Sunday on suspicion of leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
"What makes me angry is accidents do happen, (but) at least try to help the baby and not leave," Arpaio said.
Yet another reason to avoid mexico and all business related to it. Close the boarders until they respect and show reciprocity to our judicial system without their caveots attached. Hell, at least we have a judicial system compared to theirs.
i agree, i dont think i would have been able to control myself either. the cops would probably be arresting me for exacting revenge for the little girl. i hope that asshole fries
damn right, his ass would have been layin next to that girl...
Actually if the illegal alien bitch Isabel Acosta had stayed in Mexico where her fucking ass belongs. She wouldn't have dead parents and a dead daughter.