A now 21-year-old man charged in the 2008 Halloween murder of an Elgin teen is in custody following his extradition from Mexico Wednesday.
Police obtained a first-degree murder arrest warrant for George Martinez about six weeks after the shooting death of 16-year-old Elgin resident Jaime Benitez, but Martinez had fled the area by that time, according to authorities.
The gang-related shooting occurred about a block from a Halloween party late that Friday night. Benitez was taken to Sherman Hospital and was pronounced dead, while a second victim went to the hospital on his own but survived the shooting with a wound to a leg.
Police said Martinez shot Benitez after a large fight broke out at the party on the 500 block of Douglas Avenue.
Authorities are unsure when Martinez crossed the border into Mexico but said he fled the Elgin area quickly after the murder.
Although police identified Martinez as a suspect early in the case, the warrant wasn't issued until Dec. 15 of that year, Elgin police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said. Theriault said the six-week delay between the shooting and issuance of the warrant was fairly normal, because authorities had been unable to interview Martinez.
The U.S. marshals office worked with Mexican law enforcement on the case and were able to locate Martinez at his father's home in Morelos, Coahuila, Mexico. Mexican authorities arrested Martinez at the home, about 40 miles from the U.S. border nearest to San Antonio, on June 22, 2011, and jailed him while awaiting extradition hearings.
"We knew where he was for a period of time before Mexican officials were able to arrest him," Theriault said. "It was fairly run of the mill. The delay was the extradition hearings."
Theriault said Mexican authorities arrested Martinez, who is a U.S. citizen, without incident at the home on a $2 million arrest warrant.
Martinez was extradited to the United States Wednesday morning by U.S. marshals, who were met by Elgin detectives at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago
Wednesday was the first time Elgin police had been in contact with Martinez, who was being held at the Elgin police station pending a Thursday morning bond hearing. Detectives were interviewing Martinez throughout the day but would not comment on the interrogation.
Martinez, whose former address was on the 800 block of Parkway Avenue in Elgin, has been charged with first-degree murder but will likely face further charges in connection to the shooting of the second victim, police said.