- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 22, 2007

An extradition hearing for one of the suspects in the execution-style slayings of three college students in Newark, N.J., was postponed yesterday for two weeks because a judge determined the required paperwork was not in order.

Rodolfo Godinez, 24, is fighting his extradition to New Jersey, where he faces first-degree murder charges. Mr. Godinez, who was arrested last month in Oxon Hill, is one of six suspects in the Aug. 4 slayings of Terrance Aeriel, 18, Dashon Harvey, 20, and Iofemi Hightower, 20.

Mr. Godinez appeared yesterday before Prince George’s County District Court Judge Beverly J. Woodard. The judge was expected to hear arguments about the extradition, but instead said officials first needed a signed rendition warrant from Gov. Martin O’Malley. Another hearing was scheduled for Oct. 5 — beyond a waiting period for the governor to sign the warrant.

Mr. Godinez did not speak during yesterday’s brief hearing. He stood next to his attorney and appeared to listen intently as a Spanish interpreter spoke into his ear.

The hearing was marked by confusion on the part of the judge and attorneys.

“Nobody ever contests extradition,” public defender Brian Denton said.

Mr. Godinez, a legal immigrant from Nicaragua, is the only suspect who has not been returned to New Jersey. He initially said he would fight extradition, but told a state official during an informal hearing Thursday that he would waive extradition yesterday, said Capt. Joe Aiello of the Prince George’s County Sheriff’s Office. Thursday’s informal hearing was closed to the public because it is considered investigative.

Mr. Denton, who was not at Thursday’s hearing, disputed the sheriff’s office’s account. He said Mr. Godinez has continued to tell him that he wants to fight extradition. He suggested confusion may have arisen because there was no interpreter at Thursday’s hearing.

Mr. Denton said Mr. Godinez can communicate in English but that he might not understand complicated legal proceedings without translation.

Mr. Denton said he planned to argue at the extradition hearing that Mr. Godinez has been held in violation of Article 36 of the Vienna Convention, which says people arrested in a country other than their own have a right to communicate with consular officials. It is not clear whether Mr. Godinez ever made such a request.

In the Newark killings, the victims were ordered to kneel in front of a wall behind an elementary school and shot in the back of the head in an apparent robbery. A fourth victim — Mr. Aeriel’s 19-year-old sister, Natasha — was shot in the head but survived. All four victims were planning to attend Delaware State University this fall.

The suspects in the slayings include Mr. Godinez’s 16-year-old half brother, Alexander Alfaro.

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