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Fugitive in Franklin NJ auto assault gets more Mexican prison time

press release September 25, 2013


As the result of a Mexican federal prosecutor’s appeal,  the prison sentence Juan Luis Bautista (DOB 3/17/81) received in 2011 for  causing first-degree vehicular injuries to 21-year-old Christina Applegate in a 2003  Franklin Township NJ drunk driving collision has been increased.


Applegate, who was married and living in Franklin Township, has remained in a coma since the collision. She is in the care of her father, who has moved to another state.


In a decision reached 1/27/13 by Mexico’s Sixth Circuit Appeals Court, Bautista’s original 6 ½ year term in a Mexican prison was extended to 9 ½ years,  according to information the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office received this week from the California Department of Justice. Bautista also was ordered to “repair the damages caused to Christina Applegate.” The California agency assisted the GCPO in translating Bautista’s criminal file into Spanish and forwarding it to Mexican authorities, enabling them to issue an arrest warrant for Bautista, Mexican-born and a Bridgeton NJ resident at the time of the 2003 crash.  Bautista failed to appear at a 6/4/04  Woodbury NJ court hearing on assault by auto and aggravated assault charges  and was declared a fugitive.  Efforts to locate him in South Jersey were unsuccessful and the investigation turned to his native Mexico.                                                                    



Bautista was arrested in the Mexican state of Puebla in December 2010.


The Mexican federal prosecutor for Bautista’s case appealed after Bautista’s sentencing on July 4, 2011, said Special Agent Val Jiminez, of the California Attorney General’s Foreign Prosecution and Law Enforcement Unit. The sentence was 2 ½ years in prison for causing grave bodily injury to Applegate, four years for use of a false public document (a driver’s license) and a fine of 8,060 pesos.


Although the judge “considered that the perpetrator did not plan to cause the accident” in determining the sentence for injuring Applegate, Jiminez said Bautista’s prosecutor felt “ it’s not enough time” and appealed the 2 ½ years.



‘We appreciate the efforts of law enforcement, both in the U.S. and in Mexico, to prosecute this to the fullest extent permitted under the law,”  said Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton. “Our thanks to the Mexican prosecutors, whose persistence resulted in additional prison time, which this defendant deserves for his actions.”


Applegate sustained severe head injuries in the 9/16/03 crash as she attempted to turn her Ford Mustang onto Swedesboro Road from Delsea Drive. Bautista was  driving an SUV at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction on Delsea Drive and struck the Applegate vehicle. Two passengers in Bautista’s vehicle also were injured.  The crash occurred within sight of a WaWa convenience store on Delsea  Drive where Applegate worked.

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