Fatal hit and run fugitive requests permission to travel

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PHOENIX – Is it a last chance at justice or simply a cop out for cash?  

A Valley father is furious at a deal being brokered with a woman convicted of killing his son.

Muneerah Al-Tarrah was found guilty of drunk driving and hitting and killing 35-year-old Todd DeGain in Mesa in 2005. She fled the scene and, while out on bond, fled the country.

She's a fugitive living in Kuwait and now she wants Maricopa County Superior Court to drop that fugitive status so she can travel to Europe without risk of arrest.

It is a request that the victim's family calls disgusting and insulting.

“It's not about Muneerah Al-Tarrah or my son anymore,” says Glenn DeGain. “Now this is about the justice system and whether it's going to sell out or not.”

DeGain says the pursuit of justice in this case has resulted in blunder after blunder. He says, “It's frustrating but I'll tell you what it's also heartbreaking.”

After her arrest, Al-Tarrah posted a $150,000 bond. It turns out her defense attorney failed to obtain her passport and while out on bond Al-Tarrah fled to Kuwait where she has ties to the royal family.

Her bond was also inadvertently refunded and never repaid. Al-Tarrah has since been tried and convicted but refuses to return to Arizona and now is asking Maricopa County to drop her warrant and Interpol Alert Status Red so that she can travel freely to Europe for psychiatric care not available to her in Kuwait.

“I mean quite honestly she might be interested in just traveling but the circumstance we find ourselves in right now is that we have a defendant who has refused to return to the U.S. for sentencing, the opportunity to get her back is one I can't pass up in good conscience,” says Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Prosecutors intend to allow Al-Tarrah to post $300,000 bond then they will set a sentencing date for 60 to 90 days out. The hope is this time she will appear.

“If she refuses to come back for the sentencing hearing then we will seek another warrant and a greater bond and we'll be back at square one,” says Montgomery.

DeGain says Maricopa County is sending the wrong message. “They know she will never return to Arizona so when they take a $300,000, a bond made in exchange for her freedom of travel, it's simply a sale of justice.”

The county attorney says, “She killed somebody and then she left the scene. We want her back here. She needs to pay for the crime she committed.”

There is a hearing scheduled on the issue Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. If the request is granted then Al-Tarrah will have 60 to 90 days of travel freedom until she either appears in court or another warrant is issued for her arrest.