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Decatur apartment raid yields fugitive hit-and-run suspect

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com· 340-2432

A fugitive in a 2-year-old Bentonville, Ark., hit-and-run case is in Morgan County Jail.

Marshal Marty Keely, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service, Northern District of Alabama, told The Decatur Daily on Friday that Lazardo Lobaton, 25, is in jail on negligent manslaughter charges stemming from a July 18, 2004, incident.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Thursday that the Benton County Sheriff’s Department arrested Lobaton in connection with a hit-and-run accident that killed a Robinson, Ark., man on Old Highway 68 near Siloam Springs.

The paper said sheriff’s investigators suspected Lobaton, formerly of Rogers, Ark., of driving while intoxicated when he allegedly struck and killed 31-year-old Brandon Haley. Haley and another man were riding bicycles at the time.

The Democrat-Gazette said authorities believe Lobaton likely traveled back to Mexico for about six months following the accident, and then returned to the U.S.

Keely said marshals executed a search warrant in Florida recently but Lobaton eluded capture.

“We recently received information that he was living in Decatur,” Keely said.

Keely said the U.S. marshal’s Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force, agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Department and three units of the Decatur Police Department raided an apartment at 601 Seventh Ave. S.W. at 5 a.m. on Dec. 14.

“They entered the apartment and found Lobaton and 10 other individuals living there,” Keely said.

Keely said they did not arrest any of Lobaton’s roommates.

According to the Democrat-Gazette, Benton County Deputy Doug Gay came to Decatur on Tuesday to make a positive identification and interview the suspect. In 2004, Lobaton’s status as U.S. citizen was undocumented, so sheriff’s investigators contacted INS. The paper said INS agreed to allow Benton County the first opportunity to press charges against the suspect.

Chief Investigator Mike Corley of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department said Friday that Lobaton does not face any criminal charges locally.

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