The brother of a fugitive suspected of driving an SUV that struck and killed a nun in Water Mill in July 2012 was sentenced to time already served and was released on Thursday, January 31.
Miguel Ixpec-Chitay, 26, of Riverhead was found guilty on December 19 of lying to federal officers who were searching for his brother, Carlos Armando Ixpec-Chitay, 30, who has eluded law enforcement for more than seven months.
Mr. Ixpec-Chitay was sentenced by Judge Denis R. Hurley in federal court in Central Islip and released after the U.S. Marshals Service said there was no immigration hold or other detainer on him, according to his attorney, Leonard Lato. Mr. Ixpec-Chitay served four months at the Queens Detention Facility in Jamaica, Queens, from the time of his arrest, September 13, 2012, to January 31.
Authorities said they believe the elder brother may have fled to his native Guatemala via California following a July 9 crash that killed Sister Jacqueline Walsh. The Roman Catholic nun of St. Edward the Confessor Church in Syosset, who was 59 years old, was walking along Rose Hill Road near her retreat house that evening when she was struck and killed instantly, police said. Police believe Carlos Ixpec-Chitay was driving the SUV.
Miguel Ixpec-Chitay was convicted of a single felony count of knowingly and willfully making false, fictitious and fraudulent statements and representations in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the government of the United States, namely Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He told federal officers that he had not called or received a call from his fugitive brother in approximately 25 days, but was found to have made and received multiple phone calls to and from his brother on the day of the crash and the next day, according to prosecutors.
According to Mr. Lato, Judge Hurley denied Mr. Ixpec-Chitay’s post-trial motion for a judgment of acquittal. Mr. Ixpec-Chitay will file a notice of appeal because it is customary for a defendant to appeal following a conviction after trial.
At the same time, Mr. Lato said, “Mr. Ixpec-Chitay received a fair trial and appropriate sentence.”
Sister Walsh’s cousin, Chuck Walsh, was at the sentencing last week with Jim Murphy, the deacon of Sister Walsh’s church. Mr. Walsh said this week that the federal case has been an emotional one and the proceedings were hurtful.
“The guy was afraid,” he said. “He wants to protect his brother—I can somewhat understand that. It was a legal crime. The problem is, it’s a tremendous emotional thing that took place here.”
Mr. Walsh said that Mr. Lato’s comments during the case were especially difficult to take. “Deacon Jim and myself shook our heads … to defend somebody who knows where this human being is—there was no sincerity,” he said. “Nothing will bring our friend Sister Jackie back, but it’s a shame the mud that people have to go through now because of it.”
Mr. Walsh said he wants to move forward and hopes the authorities will be able to refocus their efforts to find Carlos Ixpec-Chitay now that this case is behind them.
“We expect captivity and we trust fully in the Southampton Town Police,” he said. “We want him captured and we want him to have the dignity to understand that people understand it was an accident. We want to go back to our lives.”