Donald Trump’s speech in Phoenix setting forth his hard-line approach to immigration highlighted 10 “Angel Moms” – people who stepped up to the podium at the Trump event and said their family members had been killed by immigrants who were in the country illegally.
Who were the people killed and what happened to them?
Three of the deaths involved traffic accidents and four were of people killed in shootings, including a victim who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Four of the cases took place in California and three in Arizona. Four of the crimes took place more than a decade ago, three of them during Republican administrations. One person died of cancer 12 years after being shot. The youngest victim was 17, the oldest, 35.
Here’s a look at each.
Rebecca Ann Johnston, 18, was murdered in North Little Rock, Arkansas, on Jan. 1, 1989, her cousin, Dee Engle, said at the Trump event. She was shot during a break-in and kidnapping, according to the website of the Parents of Murdered Children support organization. Contemporaneous accounts of the crime could not be found by a computer search.
Donald Johnston, 35, a police officer in El Monte, California, was shot in January 1990 during a routine call to investigate a forgery attempt at a bank. Nguyen Lu was sentenced to 17 years in prison for the crime and hanged himself in his cell. Johnston was left a paraplegic but rejoined the police department before his health deteriorated, and he died of cancer in 2002. His doctor and family members believed the cancer was connected to bladder and urinary tract infections resulting from the paralysis.
His widow, Ruth Johnston-Martin, told the Trump rally that “my husband was shot by an illegal alien,” Lu’s relatives described him to the Los Angeles Times in 1990 as a Vietnamese refugee, and the El Monte Police Department didn’t respond to questions about Lu’s immigration status.
Steve Woods, 17, was killed during a melee at a beach in Orange County, California, in October 1993 when a paint roller rod pierced his skull. The case was cited as an impetus for Proposition 187, which sought to ban immigrants without documents from receiving public services.
Ronald da Silva, 29, was shot in April 2002 in El Monte, California. An El Monte gang member, Humberto Luis Gonzalez, was sentenced to 21 years after pleading guilty to the crime. Agnes Gibboney said at the Trump rally that her son was killed by “an illegal alien who had been previously deported. And what makes (it) so outrageous is that we came here legally,” she said.
Joshua Wilkerson, 18, was beaten to death in November 2010 in a suburb of Houston. Hermilo Moralez, a classmate of Wilkerson’s who had been brought to the United States as a child from Belize but never became a legal resident, was sentenced to life in prison for the murder.
Matthew Denice, 23, was riding his motorcycle in Milford, Massachusetts, in August 2011 when prosecutors say Nicolas Guaman, in the country illegally from Ecuador, ran a stop sign and hit Denice while driving drunk. Denice became entangled underneath Guaman’s truck and was dragged for nearly a quarter-mile in front of several witnesses who tried to get Guaman to stop the truck. He was sentenced to 12 to 14 years in prison.
Eric Zepeda, 22, died in Fontana, California, in September 2011 after a motorcycle accident. His mother, Brenda Sparks, said at the Trump event that “his murderer never did a second in handcuffs and jail.” According to the Breitbart website, whose former executive chairman is Trump’s campaign manager, Sparks told a gathering in California that the driver of the vehicle that struck Zepeda was delivering newspapers and that police told her he could only be charged with misdemeanor vehicular homicide without negligence.
Brandon Mendoza, a 32-year-old Mesa, Arizona, police sergeant, was killed in a head-on car collision May 12, 2014, with a drunken driver going the wrong way in Phoenix. The driver, Raul Silva-Corona, had lived in the United States illegally for two decades and had not been deported in 1994 after he was convicted on a criminal conspiracy charge in Colorado.
Grant Ronnebeck, 21, was shot and killed Jan. 22, 2015, over a pack of cigarettes while he was working at a QuikTrip in Mesa, Arizona. Police arrested Apolinar Altamirano, who was in the country illegally and out on an immigration bond while awaiting deportation for a burglary conviction.
Shayley Estes, 22, was shot in Phoenix in July 2015. Her ex-boyfriend, Russian national Igor Zubko, was held on $1 million bail in the case. The two had at one time lived together, but Estes reportedly had moved out. Her mother, Shannon Estes, said at the Trump event that Zubko had overstayed his visa.