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Political Change (Here And In DC) May Help Murder Victim's Mom

Carrie Ruiz of Humble is praying that President Obama and his promised commitment to foreign diplomacy will help bring her daughter's killer to justice.

Nine years ago, Ruiz's teenaged daughter, Felicia, was stabbed to death 26 times in an open field. Two of the three attackers are now behind bars, but the mastermind, Jesus Salazar, fled to his home country of Venezuela, where he has taken refuge.

For the past eight years, Ruiz had been fighting former Harris County District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal, who refused to comply with Venezuela's extradition terms: that his office would not seek a sentence greater than 30 years in prison for the murder charge, in accordance with Venezuelan law.

Now that Rosenthal is out of the picture, replaced with new DA Pat Lykos, so is that long-standing hurdle.

"If it takes agreeing not to seek a sentence of more than 30 years on this guy to get him back," prosecutor Julian Ramirez tells Hair Balls, "we're willing to do that."

Ruiz said she felt relief, but only for about a second. For it was on to the next challenge, getting Venezuela to send Salazar back to Texas.

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Venezuela's long-standing animosity and frosty relations with the United States may be starting to thaw now that George W. Bush is no longer in the White House. Reuters reports that earlier today Chavez applauded Obama's move to close the jail at Guantanamo and called Obama "a man with good intentions."

Ruiz says that twice the U.S. State Department has formally requested that Venezuela send Salazar back to Harris County to stand trial. So far, no answer.

"We don't know what they're doing," says Ruiz of the Venezuela government. "I'm just hoping that now with the new president, the relationship between America and Venezuela will be a little better. I don't know. The bottom line is that it's all heartbreaking."

-- Chris Vogel

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