Interview with District Attorney René Urrutia
By Antonio De Jesús Aguado
René Urrutia was introduced as the new district attorney in Zone D, which includes San Miguel de Allende. In an interview for Atención he talked about his challenges in this position as well as the status of some crimes that have occurred in the city.
Jesús Aguado: Could you talk about your experience in the Procuraduría de Justicia (Attorney General’s Office)?
René Urrutia: I worked for five years as a ministerial police officer in Aguascalientes. In Guanajuato, I worked for 10 years in the specialized department of the Ministerio Público in León and Celaya, and as general coordinator of the Ministerio Público.
JA: Will this city pose a challenge in your work?
RU: Every post in the Procuraduría de Justicia is a challenge. San Miguel has unique circumstances that not even cities like Guanajuato have, such as a large foreign community, but at the same time it is part of the state with its own problems and realities. This position is an opportunity to get results, have success stories, and give high-quality attention.
JA: What will your work with the local authorities be like?
RU: It is and will be coordinated work; the prosecution needs reinforcement and we have a good communication with the local authorities. We are in charge of the investigation, but now in specific cases the state or local police can also investigate under the supervision of the Ministerio Público.
JA: What is the status of the pursuit of justice in San Miguel?
RU: San Miguel is a place where things are happening, and not everything has been solved. We need to work in order to stop their gravity, but San Miguel has the most proper conditions to be a safe city. It would be irresponsible to give a status of solved cases because it is a matter of the general office.
JA: Will you participate in meetings with the foreign community?
RU: When I was introduced there were members of the foreign community. I know that there will be a meeting with the expat community. I do not have the date, but of course, I will participate.
JA: Could you talk about the status (previously requested by Atención) of the cases in which member of the foreign community have been involved?
RU: In the case of Peter Mudge we have interesting advances and open lines of investigation. Unfortunately, it has not been solved. We have not had enough information to know who those responsible are, and for that reason I do not want to divulge information, but we are working hard to get more information and solve it.
We are performing multidisciplinary work to solve the case of Zena Bayles, but we cannot share the information openly. The case of kidnapping and murder of Nancy Valenzuela is being investigated by the assistant attorney general for special investigations. One person was arrested, but they are still investigating. In the case of Joyous Heart, two females were arrested. The investigation will end in less than a month and an oral trial will begin. We are still in contact with Marcia Dworkin’s children; in addition, we are still working in order to solve the case as soon as possible.
JA: When do the cases expire?
RU: The crimes have a date of expiration according to the type of crime. We do not require external motivation to continue the investigation; it is an institutional interest, and the nationality of the victim does not matter.
Finally, Urrutia said that they will keep working in the Ministerio Público with commitment and responsibility in order to obtain justice for guanajuatenses. He said that his office is open and if people want to meet with him they can just call and schedule a time.
Zone D is made up of San Miguel, Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Comonfort, Ocampo, San José Iturbide, San Luis de la Paz and San Felipe, among other municipalities.
The cases of murder in San Miguel within the last two years Peter Mudge was an 85-year-old American.
He was murdered on Jan 19, 2011. His corpse was found at his home; he was stabbed and a plastic bag was placed over his head.
Zena Baylis was a 64-year-old woman from Ottawa, Canada; her stabbed body was found by her housekeeper in Atotonilco. The then District Attorney Miguel Ángel Rangél Zendejas declared that one of the motives could have been robbery, although the stolen objects were not that valuable. This happened in July 2011.
In February, 2013, Joyous Heart, a 59-yearold American, was found stabbed at her home in Santa Teresita de Don Diego.
According to the neighbors, the victim used to have major arguments with her adoptive daughter, who had disappeared.
On February 18, 2013, Nancy Miriam Valenzuela, a 29-year-old sanmiguelense, was kidnapped. Her corpse was found later in March. Sanmiguelenses, as well as expats, participated in a march in favor of the security in the city.
The most recent case involves Marcia Dworkin, a Canadian woman attacked in her house in Manjarrez de Mexiquito. The criminals stole a strong box. Marcia Dworkin, due to the injuries caused by those responsible, passed away later in Canada.