Custody dispute turns deadly in Mexico

Posted: Monday, March 11, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- An Eagle River woman is in Mexico, searching for her 2-year-old daughter as she tries to cope with her son's death.

On Valentine's Day, Michele Gallegos' ex-husband shot and killed their 5-year-old son, Quique, before killing himself. The boy and his little sister, Layla, had been living with their father, Enrique Gallegos-Gonzalez, in the central Mexico city of San Luis Potosi.

After the deaths, a Mexican judge awarded temporary custody of Layla to Enrique's mother. Last week, Anchorage Superior Court Judge Sen Tan ordered the Mexican judge to return the girl to the United States.

''What it boils down to, it's going to be a custody dispute between Mexico and the U.S.,'' said Thom Janidlo, an Anchorage attorney who represented Enrique until his death.

No formal arrangement exists, however, between the United States and other countries in such cases. No law says Mexico has to follow Tan's order, according to Christopher Lamora, spokesman for the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, D.C.

The Gallegos case is being monitored by officials at the Bureau of Consular Affairs in Washington, D.C., Lamora said.

''We want this resolved as soon as possible,'' he told the Anchorage Daily News. ''It's in Layla's best interest to be in a stable home environment . . . rather than being the subject of a long-standing custody dispute.''

The circumstances of the shootings are unclear. Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City confirmed the deaths of Enrique and the boy but wouldn't discuss the details.

Janidlo said Enrique's sister told him her brother was cleaning his gun when it went off and killed Quique.

''He was so distraught he killed himself,'' Janidlo said. ''It wasn't what we would call murder.''

The couple's divorce became final in September 1999. A custody investigator was called in, lawyers for both sides said.

The investigator's report stated that in July 1999 Enrique threatened to kill himself if Michele divorced him, then a few days later Michele attempted suicide by overdosing on pills, said Michele's Anchorage attorney, Scott Dattan.

In October 1999, Michele was arrested for drunken driving and reckless endangerment and later pleaded no contest, according to court records. The investigator's report states that Michele had left Layla at home alone asleep when she was pulled over with Quique in the car and a blood alcohol level that measured .137, Dattan said.

Michele entered a treatment program, he said.

But following visits with both parents, the custody investigator in September 2000 recommended the children live with their father, according to both lawyers.

In January 2001, Tan gave Enrique primary custody with the understanding that he intended to move to Mexico. Michele would have the children summers in Alaska.

Enrique and the children moved to Mexico in August.

Subscribe to Peninsula Clarion

Trending this week:


© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us