A Maryland man being held in a Virginia prison on rape charges was released over coronavirus concerns, then allegedly murdered his accuser, according to police.
Police tracked down and found Ibrahim Bouaichi, 33, in Prince George’s County, Maryland, on Wednesday. Authorities sought Bouaichi in connection with the death of Karla Dominguez, who had accused Bouaichi of rape and testified against him in October, according to The Washington Post.
When police located Bouaichi, he fled in his car until he crashed. Police moving to arrest him found that he had apparently shot himself. Bouaichi remained in critical condition on Thursday.
Partly on Dominguez’s testimony, Bouaichi was indicted on five felony charges of rape, sodomy, strangulation, abduction, and burglary. Bouaichi was held without bail in an Alexandria prison facility until April 9, when Circuit Court Judge Nolan Dawkins ordered his release on a $25,000 bond.
Bouaichi’s attorneys argued that his bail terms were worth revisiting and he should be released to house arrest because of the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Jails and prisons have been identified as hotspots for the disease because of the facilities’ close quarters. Once the facility is infected, prisoners often don’t have space to socially distance to keep from contracting the virus.
Bouaichi’s attorneys said that continuing to keep him locked up brought increased risk to him, as well as his legal team if they sought to visit him in person. The jail in which Bouaichi was being held had issued rules over so-called “contact visits” between attorneys and inmates, cutting them down to a minimum. Inmates and attorneys moved to meeting via video conference, which Bouaichi’s attorneys complained had “effectively deprived [Bouaichi] of legal counsel.”
Prosecutors argued against releasing Bouaichi since he was indicted for violent crimes and could be a risk to others. Dawkins sided with the defense, and allowed Bouaichi to be released back to his home in Maryland.
On July 29, police responded to reports of gunfire at an apartment building in Alexandria. Police found Dominguez lying dead outside of her apartment. Police obtained a murder warrant for Bouaichi on July 31, and found him in Maryland on Wednesday.
The coronavirus pandemic has confounded authorities and elected officials from the local to national level. Justice system officials have attempted to balance the risk from the coronavirus to inmates with the increased risk to society if certain prisoners are allowed to be set free.
California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to release 8,000 inmates from state prisons by the end of August over the coronavirus.
As The Daily Wire reports:
The CDCR will release prisoners in three stages. The state will begin releasing prisoners with 180 days or fewer left on their sentences who have not been convicted of a violent crime or are registered or required to register as a sex offender.
In the second stage, inmates age 30 and older with less than a year left on their sentences will be eligible for release if they are being held in one of eight prisons with “large populations of high-risk patients.” For the third stage, prisoners deemed at high risk of the coronavirus will be released as long as they are not convicted of a violent crime, required to register as a sex offender, or serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
At the end of July, California authorities released a woman who had served about 20 years of an 84-year sentence for murder under a state code “which allows the release of an incarcerated person in the case of an emergency that endangers their life.”