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U.S. fugitives caught in Mexico are spared a possible death penalty

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Ordinarily, prosecutors would consider the death penalty in the case of a Marine corporal accused of murdering a pregnant comrade. But Corporal Cesar Armando Laurean may have fled to Mexico, ahead of authorities who have an arrest warrant for him in the death of Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach. Her remains were found buried in his backyard in Jacksonville, North Carolina. But Mexico won't send anyone back to the United States unless the U.S. gives assurances it won't seek the death penalty. It's a 30-year-old policy that rankles some American prosecutors and enrages victims' families. Mexico has no death penalty and won't extradite anyone facing possible execution. To get their hands on a fugitive, U.S. prosecutors must agree to seek no more than life in prison. Other countries, including France and Canada, also demand such "death assurances." But the problem is more common with Mexico, since it is often a quick drive from the crime scene for a large portion of the United States. North Carolina authorities and the FBI are working with Mexican law enforcement to hunt down Laurean, a 21-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Mexico. (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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